The Head of State was speaking Thursday at International University of Africa in Sudan.
Kagame is on a two-day state visit in Khartoum, Sudan, where he arrived yesterday and held bilateral talks with Sudan President, Omar Al-Bashir.
He said that his visit to Khartoum aims at strengthening the friendship between Rwanda and Sudan, and advancing cooperation on the continent.
“The need to work together as Africans has always been pressing and we now have more reasons than ever to reinforce our solidarity. Our continent is young, dynamic, and growing fast. Africa already plays an active and positive role in global affairs,” he told students.
He said that solutions for Africa’s biggest challenges are in Africa. He said there was time Africans were conditioned and sometimes forced to rely on others for the interests of those outsiders.
“Your generation has everything it takes to make our continent what it should be,” he said.
“It is no small matter that the students in this university come from more than 70 different countries, most of them African. You represent a wealth of ideas and perspectives and you have a critical role to play in building a better continent,” Kagame noted.
Three pillars of focus
Kagame cited three pillars that Africans can focus together to attain the desired development and welfare of the population.
He said the first pillar is special efforts that must be directed to managing the diversity and deepening national cohesion and consensus.
“This means always striving to nurture good and productive politics in keeping with our respective situations and historical contexts,” he said.
He said Africa’s diversity should be seen as a source of vitality and dynamism, adding that it is up to everyone to contribute to the African character, one that is confident, at peace with itself, and open to partnership with the wider world.
“Ultimately, we should be responsible for our own security and well-being. No one will hand these to us for free,” he urged.
The second, Kagame said, Africans must accelerate African integration both economic and political. According to Kagame, Africa’s tremendous resources and opportunities have benefitted others for far too long.
“One way to also make them work for us is to stay united and collaborate closely on the things that have the most impact on the lives of our people. Trade and investment is a primary example, which is why implementing the Continental Free Trade Area is so important,” he said.
“It should not be harder to do business within Africa than it is between Africa and other parts of the world. That is a recipe for exploitation and poor terms of trade. Solidarity gives us the means to tackle these challenges more effectively rather than as individual countries with less leverage,” he said.
Kagame said that the ongoing institutional reform of the African Union aims to make the continental organization more focused, effective and financially sustainable, a target he said is critically important for Africa’s future.
He noted that a good number of countries including Sudan and Rwanda have already begun to implement the new 0.2% levy on eligible imports to finance African Union programmes.
He explained that the measure is designed to make the African Union less dependent on external partners and more attuned to the interests and priorities that Africa has defined for itself.
He said a better organised African Union (AU) will allow more mutually beneficial partnerships between Africa and other parts of the world.
The third pillar, he said, is that Africans must do the right things to seize the opportunities presented by globalisation.
He said investing in the capacities of people, especially youth, through education and information technology will allow Africans compete effectively in the knowledge industries that drive prosperity.
“Acquiring a mindset for success and ownership doesn’t require money but it is the most important condition for transforming our continent. We already have means and ability to do so, right here in Africa, and it is our responsibility. We must maintain a sense of urgency. Everything is in place and so we cannot allow time to work against us. Our people have already been waiting for too long,” he told the students.
“As university students, you are already on a path to leadership and useful service in your respective communities. I call on you to use your talents to create opportunity and well-being for others. We count on the young people of Africa to build a dignified and prosperous future for everyone on our continent.”
He told students that Rwanda has learnt lesson from her tragic history and established relevant institutions. “Rwanda doesn’t have a lot of resources but this proves that there is more in people and what they can achieve,” he said.
He noted that Africans have to deal with so many problems but they also have many opportunities to help them deal with those challenges as they also work together with other countries to maximise the opportunities.