On Friday morning, at the Office of the Abidjan Autonomous District, President Kagame was handed over the City keys by the City Governor to honour him as a visiting Head of State and an Honorary Citizen of Abidjan.
The Rwandan President and First Lady Jeannette Kagame were in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire for a two-day State Visit on the invitation of President Alassane Ouattara and First Lady Dominique Ouattara.
Speaking at the event, Kagame said he was deeply honoured to become an honorary citizen of Abidjan, and to receive the keys to the beautiful city.
“This distinction is greatly appreciated both by me personally, my wife, and the people of Rwanda, whom I am privileged to serve.”
Kagame said he took it as a strong signal of Abidjan’s aspiration, to bring fellow Africans from all over the continent even more closely together, as brothers and sisters with a common destiny.
He said the freedom of the city is more than a symbol.
“It gives expression to our shared desire for greater freedom of movement, on our continent.”
According to Kagame, removing those practical obstacles will lead to better business relationships, greater understanding and cooperation, and more solidarity and friendship among our peoples.
He said this is the reason for the adoption this year of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, and the Single African Air Transport Market.
While addressing the La Confédération Générale des Entreprises de Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI) est la principale organisation patronale de Côte d’Ivoire, Kagame said its important for Africa and Europe to relate to each other in a partnership of equals, not where one is a permanent recipient of the other’s generosity.
“We sought solutions from within our values and traditions because we had tried everything else and come up with nothing. Like in the rest of Africa, people experimented on us, we accepted it, and it came to nothing.”
He said a few decades ago, African countries were at the same level of development as some Asian countries, “which have now advanced where we have stagnated”.
Kagame said they have emphasized regional integration, as part of the East African Community.
Rwanda is an entry point to a larger market of 150-170 million people. That’s the beauty of integration, together we are bigger than we are alone.
President Kagame on corruption: “You have to take the fight to the big guys. We hold everyone accountable. We have an Ombudsman.”
He added: “Everyone makes a wealth, declaration starting with the president. I am usually one of the first to submit my forms.”
Kagame said along the way, he has demonstrated that people will be held responsible.
“My friend Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala [Senior Advisor Lazard Ltd; Board Chair Gavi] wrote a book “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous”. I told her she needs to write another one, ‘Not fighting Corruption is even More Dangerous’.”