President Paul Kagame told world leaders meeting in New York for the United Nations General Assembly that Africa has demonstrated it has the capacity to pursue its own development path, despite existing challenges.
He expressed gratitude to the leaders who have prioritized Universal Health Coverage, among other things, saying that in Rwanda, more than 90 per cent of the population has insurance coverage.
“This has contributed to significant improvement in health outcomes. It shows that it is possible for countries at every income level to make health care affordable and accessible for all. We must also commit to replenishing the Global Fund and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,” he said.
But the President said these are not things that should or can be done on Africa’s behalf.
“The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are also Africa’s goals. Africa has the means, and it is our responsibility,” he noted.
According to the Head of State, this is the very reason why the African Union continues to strengthen its capabilities and effectiveness.
“Next July, for example, trading will commence under the African Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s largest,” he said.
But Kagame admitted that Africa continues to lag behind other regions on the Sustainable Development Goals, despite the continent being home to several of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
He insisted that growth must be fully inclusive so that inequality within countries continues to diminish, and that the fundamentals needed to unlock that transformation were already in place.
“With a concerted push involving all partners, including the private sector, it is indeed possible to make up for lost time with the Sustainable Development Goals,” Kagame said.
Partnership and closer cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations, he added, was critical to continue streamlining the implementation and measurement process of those goals.
President Kagame had earlier attended the UN climate summit which he said drew an important lesson, “that innovative technologies and approaches could allow the world to act without slowing economic growth.”
“Perhaps the most impactful action countries can take is to ratify and fully implement the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,” he said.
Kagame told leaders that it was similarly important to ensure security and stability, which he indicated that they are the prerequisites for rapid progress toward a more equitable and prosperous world.
“It is essential for Africa and the rest of the international community to work closely together on peacekeeping and peace-building efforts, with mutual respect,” he said.
He also updated leaders that Rwanda was playing its part and one of the ways was the offer to evacuate refugees and asylum-seekers from detention camps in Libya in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the African Union.
He called on UN members to “uphold their legal obligations in a spirit of solidarity” saying the partnership between Rwanda, UNHCR and the AU showed a clear sign that “we can cooperate to address complex problems.”
“Africa itself is also a source of solutions,” he noted.
The first batch of the refugees, said to be about 70, is expected in the country within a few days and Gashora Transit Centre in Bugesera District is being prepared to host them.
Kagame officially invited members to the Global Gender Summit which will be hosted in Kigali in November.