Interview: Rwandan president says FOCAC summit comes “at the right time”
Visiting Rwandan President Paul Kagame said here Sunday that the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) comes at the right time as globalization faces headwind.
FOCAC is a cooperation mechanism that has, since its establishment in 2000, achieved great results in health care, education, infrastructure and industrialization in Africa, Kagame said.
China and Africa share a common aspiration for development and stability, he said. With a solid foundation in place for China-Africa cooperation, Kagame said he expects the summit, set for Sept. 3-4, to further expand the scope of cooperation and do “better and more of what we are doing well now.”
He described the summit as timely since there is “need for cooperation more than ever” as some countries make clear their intentions to serve themselves first over other countries, Kagame said.
FOCAC emphasizes a form where countries come together for cooperation, carrying a positive message for the whole world, he added.
The Rwandan leader also made comments about the so-called China “debt trap” for Africa, calling the fabricated concept an attempt to discourage relations between China and Africa.
They say China has lent too much to Africa, but “another perspective of the issue is that those criticizing China on debt give too little,” and Africa needs the funding to build capacity for development, he said.
The Rwandan leader also recalled Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to his country in July, saying it “offered us a great opportunity to discuss and strengthen our friendship and cooperation” at the bilateral level and beyond. The visit was the first to the African country by a Chinese head of state.
When asked to describe the Rwanda-China relationship, he called it a “productive partnership” of mutual benefit, noting that it has brought great benefits to the Rwandan people.
Kagame, whose country holds the rotating chair of the African Union (AU), also elaborated on his goal for institutional reform of the continental bloc.
The long-called-for reform aims to strengthen unity among member states, enhance capacity for self-driven development and improve efficiency within the bloc, said Kagame.
There is a lot of strength in unity, and AU member states need to work closely for a better future of the continent, he said. “We should be able to take care of ourselves.”
The ongoing reform of the AU “fits very well with our cooperation with China,” said the Rwandan president.
“China has been a supportive friend for Africa for a long time,” he said. “The reform should build our capacities and make the partnership more meaningful. We are looking to China to strengthen us in this quest for unity, independence and efficiency.”