Jovial Rantao

Paul Kagame makes the right noises. And I like them. The president of Rwanda knows how to make the right moves to compliment his right noises. And I like them too.

No sooner had he assumed the important role within the African Union that he made his first bold move.

And this is that Africa must wean itself off its dependency on donor funding for the welfare of its citizens. To do this, Africa must embark on a serious journey to financial independence.

I am sure there isn’t a soul in Africa who will disagree with the president of Rwanda. I am sure too there will be many among us who will say they have heard these right noises before. The dream of an Africa that is at peace with herself, an Africa that is self-sufficient and secure is one that was heard by our forefathers and the succession of generations after them.

The dream dovetails, quite beautifully, with the bold and ambitious Agenda 2063 project which is the brainchild of, and is led by, African Union Commission chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Agenda 2063 seeks to mobilise all Africans to roll their sleeves up and take decisive steps to build a continent of our dreams. The deadline set for the achievement of this dream – our dream – is 2063.

Kagame’s intervention is one such decisive and bold step in the right direction.

However, while there is nothing wrong with Kagame’s articulation of the dream, what is more important now is how this dream is going to be achieved.

What is crucial is how he, as a leader, is going to galvanise the rest of the African leadership, as organised by the AU, to ditch a culture and bond of dependence built over many years between African countries and their Pied Pipers in Europe, the US and other parts of the world.

One of Kagame’s immediate challenges is to get the heads of states and government to honour their commitment to the AU and pay their dues. This will be an important step and a strong sign of commitment from leaders who share the sentiments and action taken by Kagame. However, the truth is the AU has struggled for decades, in the main because the nations have not honoured their financial commitments to the organisation.

Kagame’s second major step has to be getting AU members to fully fund programmes the organisation embarks on.

These are programmes that have a single focus – to improve the lives of all Africans – irrespective of where they are.

African governments can work with the private sector in their countries. And here they will find many deep pockets and many willing hearts.

A great example of how Africa’s private and public sectors can work together for the good of the continent is how Dr Dlamini-Zuma was able to get Africa’s billionaires to sit around one table and establish a fund that not only assisted in the fight against the Ebola epidemic, but will also be used for the establishment of a centre for disease control which will deal with all the health problems besetting our nations.

We only need to look at the revolutionary work done by Kagame in changing Rwanda to realise he is a man of action.

However, as much as I like the noise he has made, I also like the step he has taken to help us get closer to achieving the Africa of our dreams.

What I do not like about Kagame is his love of power. He should have stepped down when his second term as the president of Rwanda ended.