Kagame made the call on Wednesday 24th November 2021 as he opened the 17th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC)– Africa Region themed “African Parliaments in the 21st Century”.
The conference taking place at Kigali Convention Centre brought together government officials and diplomats accredited to Rwanda among others.
It has drawn emphasis on promoting digital integration in parliamentary activities and restructuring their systems to become more efficient following adverse effects brought by COVID-19 pandemic.
As he addressed participants, President Kagame thanked parliamentarians for their contribution to COVID-19 response and urged them to take the lead to ensure the continent has resilient health systems.
“Across the continent, parliamentarians have raised awareness and provided support for pandemic response. As we continue on the path to recovery, parliaments still need to be at the forefront of building Africa’s resilience against, mainly health threats and others,” he said.
To achieve the objective, the President suggested main ideas for how to make progress.
“First, I advise all national parliaments to ratify the African Medicines Agency [AMA] which has now entered into force. This is a landmark agreement that will help ensure that vaccines and medications in Africa are both high quality and locally produced,“ he said.
The African Union adopted treaties establishing AMA in February 2019.
Signatories to the new African Medicines Agency Treaty have now reached 28 countries – more than half of the African Union’s 55 member states. It is expected to address challenges in the health sector particularly reinforcing the manufacturing of medicines of African continent to avoid heavy reliance on imports.
Kagame has also called on parliamentarians to take part in the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfTCA).
“Second, legislators should be a driving force for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfTCA) and the Paris Climate Accords. Both require extensive, enabling legislation. Third, enacting the legal frameworks required to speed up digital transformation should be a priority,” he said.
Lastly, Kagame highlighted that budget allocations should be made towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063.
“This is particularly the case in the health sector where there is still too much dependence on external financing,” he stressed.
The President said that the pandemic exposed Africa’s vulnerabilities and reversed some of the gains countries had made. To this end, he called for collaboration to return to normalcy.
“Africa is not alone in these setbacks, but we can afford it less than others can. So, we have to work together to get back on track, with a sense of urgency,” Kagame said.
“I would like to encourage all of us to continue sharing knowledge, skills, and resources with one another. It is by collaborating that our individual efforts will be multiplied,” he added.
The Speaker of Rwanda’s Low Chamber of Parliament, Donatille Mukabalisa has said that the conference is a good opportunity for parliamentarians to reassess their contribution to address problems facing the world and seek together what can be done to promote citizens’ wellbeing and economic growth.
The conference brought together approximately 800 participants while others attended virtually.
Participating countries include Botswana, Cameroun, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda as the host country.