President Kagame addressing the RCS yesterday.( Photo/ Urugwiro Village)
By Edmund Kagire

LONDON – President Paul Kagame, yesterday, on his second day of a working visit to England, addressed the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) on the role of the youth in the development in Rwanda, Africa and the Commonwealth.

Kagame, who was invited by the society to deliver a lecture as the newest member in the group, said that the youth have played a vital role in the reconstruction and development process of the country and Africa in general.

“In any country, the youth should be pillars for the future. Rwanda’s vision for our youth builds on the one we have set for the country as a whole,”

“Prosperity, self efficiency and dignity through innovation, creativity, technology and values, including traditional ones,” Kagame said.

He told the gathering of over 300 members of RCS, that Rwanda is nurturing the youth who are able to determine their own destiny through making good choices.

The President said that the youth form the biggest demographic percentage of the country’s population.  75 percent are below the age of 30, with the majority born after the genocide.

In his lecture, Kagame also gave the 3 scenarios in which the country’s youth have been involved; The youth were mobilised in large numbers to carry out the genocide, another group of the youth mobilised themselves to liberate the country and today, it is the same youth playing a vital role in the country’s development.

“Throughout our rebuilding process, our youth continue to show immense resilience, many have had to shoulder heavy responsibilities since the genocide, including providing for their siblings at an age when they needed care themselves,”

“Against incredible odds, they are contributing meaningfully to reconciliation in their villages across the country. In a sense, a lot is being asked of the Rwandan youth. They inherited a difficult past,” Kagame told his audience.

He, however, said that the youth have since gathered the pieces and continue to play a positive role in the development process of the country. He added that today, the youth are represented in the country’s parliament and participate in decision making.

The President observed that the youth form a formidable force once given the required guidance and support. He reminded the nations of the Commonwealth that investing in the youth is important both at the national and international level, since the youth form half of the world’s population.

Among other things Kagame underscored the need for quality education, adding that having many illiterate youth in a country or on the continent is a danger in itself.

He cited the example of the 9-Year Basic Education program, which Rwanda is implementing today, as one of the strategies put in place to ensure that the country’s youth are empowered with the knowledge and professional skills required for development.

He was also keen to highlight what being part of the Commonwealth meant for the youth of Rwanda.
“The Commonwealth is well placed and has the right values to contribute meaningfully to this generation of young people. This includes supporting the movement of skilled people from countries with higher skills to those where they are critically needed.

The commitment to the youth and welcoming Rwanda into the Commonwealth was highlighted with the news that the RCS will be hosting the first Africa Commonwealth Youth Leadership workshop in Rwanda later this year.

Building on the success of projects in Malaysia, Ghana, Cyprus and the United Kingdom, Rwanda will play hosts to ‘Nkabom 2010’ – meaning ‘coming together’ in the Ghanaian language of Twi.

The ten-day programme will bring together young people from all over the Commonwealth member countries to actively engage them in international issues, working together to develop greater understanding of the host country, the region and beyond.

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