The Head of State made the call on Thursday 13th October 2022 as he opened the Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2022 that brought together over 9000 young people.
Kagame was the guest of honour at the summit which was also attended by the Deputy President of Kenya, Rigathi Gachagua who came to Rwanda for the first time after assuming office.
He highlighted that the important forum which was launched in Rwanda ten years ago, has become a powerhouse, bringing together thousands of young people every year, to contribute solutions, and learn from each other.
“Africa is not a ‘continent of problems’. Not at all. Yes, there are problems, but where don’t you find problems? The world over, there are problems. So we have to deal with our own problems, but we are not a continent of problems. At least, we must also, and as leaders, do our part to recognize that young people are equal partners in our development agenda,” he said.
The Head of State said that leaders have a duty to listen to the youth, and work with them. He also advised young people to work hard with a purpose, because its absence of it would make their efforts futile.
“Hard work, even if it is smart work as well, without purpose, is not fulfilling. Therefore, we must also bear in mind the purpose, who we are, what we want to be, where we want to go, and all that driven in our minds by having a purpose,” he said.
“May I add that, with that purpose, you can add a little bit of discipline. Discipline guides us, measures and lets us know the excesses we have to deal with, whether personally or at the level of society,” added Kagame.
Kagame asked the young people if they ever heard someone who became a looser because of discipline and reminded them that it helps to value what a person does.
“So, let’s try it a little bit in our daily lives. It will serve us well. It helps people think, put value to every step of their way. It guides us in the right direction. Whether it is politics, is a bit of discipline. Whichever part of life, it should involve a bit of that. Of course, everything in excess has its own problems. So again, I’m saying, just try even with a little bit, and we will be where we want to be,” he noted.
The President shared Rwanda’s resilience journey. He explained that the country was at its lowest point 28 years ago but people dared to dream big, to give themselves something to look forward to, every day.
To this end, Rwandans worked hard together to overcome division, provide justice, and build prosperity.
“For the past two decades, this vision has become Rwanda’s purpose, and the reason for everything that we do. I always want to thank the people of Rwanda for their understanding and embracing these principles that have taken us this far.
Whatever your purpose, do not get discouraged by doubts. Begin by not doubting yourself. Try to overcome that, and ultimately, you, your family, your country, and our continent, will be better off for it,” Kagame said.
YouthConnekt Summit is taking place for the fifth time since 2012. It was initiated by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
This year’s edition brought together young people from 22 African countries including Rwanda.
Rwanda’s Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi thanked President Kagame for relentlessly dedicating time to interact with the youth. She requested young people to take advantage of the summit to gain knowledge helping them to transform the African continent.
UNDP Representative in Rwanda, Maxwell Gomera delivered a touching and inspiring speech where he recounted the story of his mother who used to sell tomatoes to support her family.
His mother could not get the investment she needed for her business since no one would offer such opportunities at the time “Let alone to a woman,” Gomera said.
“No bank would take a chance on her, and it failed to grow to the potential it could have.
Eventually, she had to give up on part of her dream,” he said.
He said he used to help her with her business but since she lacked the investment she needed; ‘her business stayed small, her dreams stayed small’.
Gomera emphasized that young people are facing the same challenges, just like his mother. “Like my mother, young people do not have the access they need. 42% fail to get that funding, these are the things we can solve with the right leadership.”
He proceeded to state how young people should be facilitated in getting investments to take their businesses to the next level since more than 80% in Africa do not reach the level.
The President of Senegal, Macky Sall who delivered remarks virtually said that the youth needs to be empowered as the future of the African continent.
He explained that his country allocates 26% of national budget for education and training aimed at securing the youth’s future.
The Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, Rigathi Gachagua inspired young people attending the summit to take part in the decision making in all areas of life “Take your rightful place in decision making.”