He made the call as he officiated the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Local Government Conference (CLGC) on November 14, 2023, at the Kigali Convention Center, where he emphasized the significance of collaboration.
The CLGC, convening from November 14 to 17, 2023, brought together local leaders from member countries, including Ministers of Local Government, district and city mayors, among others.
Rwanda’s Minister of Local Government, Jean Claude Musabyimana, expressed pride in hosting the conference for the first time.
He highlighted that discussions would encompass common challenges faced by member countries, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, with a primary focus on grassroots leadership and its pivotal role in overcoming emerging challenges.
Musabyimana disclosed that the conference’s agenda extends beyond the pandemic, covering democracy, climate change, finance, and the role of local governments in fast-tracking Sustainable Development Goals.
The overarching theme of the conference, "Building Local Government Resilience to Future Shocks," aligns with contemporary trends and serves as a reminder for nations to collaborate in overcoming challenges, including those posed by COVID-19, climate change, economic instability, and conflicts.
Premier Ngirente drew attention to alarming statistics, noting that Commonwealth countries collectively lost over US$1000 billion of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, attributing a substantial portion of these losses to the effects of climate change. He warned that if no action is taken, climate-related impacts could push 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030.
The Premier emphasized that the conference presents a crucial opportunity to discuss reinforcing the capacity of local governments to withstand these shocks. Despite Rwanda’s considerable efforts in this regard, Dr. Ngirente acknowledged that there is still a long journey ahead.
He outlined key priorities, such as citizen-centered governance, effective service delivery, inclusive development, the introduction of performance contracts, and transparency and accountability.
Ngirente highlighted specific successes, including building capacity for local leaders, integrating technology in service delivery, and allocating budgets for districts’ development projects.
These endeavors, he emphasized, have contributed to Rwanda’s progress in building a safe, united, and prosperous nation over the past 29 years.
The biennial conference, last held physically in 2017, was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its resumption in 2023 underscores the importance of fostering international cooperation to address the complex challenges facing nations today.