Rwanda and the African continent pursue progress and development for the interest of citizens not to receive credit or validation by external parties, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame was speaking at the Namibian State House in Windhoek, Namibia while addressing the press after holding a meeting with his host President Hage Gottfried Geingob.
President Kagame is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame on a three day state visit.
“We make progress not to be credited for it. We make progress for ourselves,” Kagame
Measuring the impact of growth and development is based on trickle down effects to the population, the President said, and not just statistics and numbers.
That way, he added, manipulating statistics would not serve any purpose.
“If we cooked numbers we would be cheating ourselves not anybody else. Those writing stories about us are not people we want to please or satisfy. We want to satisfy ourselves,” he said.
The President’s comments come in the wake of false reports by UK’s newspaper, Financial Times (FT), that Rwanda was manipulating its poverty data to portray a positive image of its social economic progress.
Kagame said that often, different external players seek authority over African nations based on a line of thought that progress on the continent has to be validated by an external player.
“It originates from the stereotypes…it’s as if Africans can’t do fine, they must be doing things that must be validated by others, somewhere. We don’t need any validation, we want to do things that benefit us, that put us in a place where we want to be,” the Head of State said.
In contrast to the FT narrative, global financial institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) have consistently authenticated Rwanda’s economic progress.
Kagame noted that the impact of the progress was not only in statistics but also in terms of quality of lives and social economic aspects.
“The growth of our economy is real, it is felt by the people of our country, it originates with them, they are the ones who toil and put in hard work every day. If you look at how much agriculture has grown, in terms of food security levels, people are able to feed themselves which was never the case before,” Kagame said.
“Growth in agriculture started about 12 years ago, we had never had growth before then. It is not just growth by numbers, it is growth that is felt in a farmer’s pocket, how they are able to feed themselves.”
Kagame said that the country is well aware of existing challenges such as poverty and is working on addressing them.
“We have problems we have to deal with every day. My brother mentioned poverty, which creates other problems. We have been reducing levels of poverty very fast in actual fact, so it is helping us to resolve those other issues that people talk about,” he said.
Cooperation with Namibia
Kagame also spoke of intentions and willingness to foster close ties with Namibia for mutual interest and progress as well as sharing lessons and experiences.
“We want to work with you, your country, your people so that we advance the different causes African people have to undertake and it is on that backdrop that we are happily here visiting your country and you, we are looking forward to more interactions,” he said.
He tipped the nation on the importance of citizens sharing common interest and aspirations saying it provides avenues of addressing any emerging challenges and differences.
“It is now necessary for people to look at what is of common interest to them and use whatever difference for opening up a discussion that drives towards what is good for all of them and not just for one group or one person,” he added.
While in the Southern African nation, the President toured the Namibia Diamond Trading Company which promotes diamond sorting, valuing, selling and marketing practices through the exclusive use of domestically mined stones.