May 20, 2014 (KIGALI) – African leaders should largely be blamed for failure to resolve conflicts that are taking the continent backwards, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame said on Tuesday.
- President Paul Kagame has called for Africans to advance African solutions (photo credit: Village Urugwiro)
“As African leaders, we must take responsibility and accept our failures in dealing with these matters,” he told a panel discussion at the ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meeting in the capital, Kigali.
“Unless we deeply look into these, we may not make any meaningful progress on the continent,” he added.
Kagame and other leaders were discussing a report from the panel of experts established by the AfDB president, Donald Kaberuka. Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chaired the high level panel on fragile states.
Social exclusion, income inequality, vulnerability to economic, social and environmental risks, according to the 2014 African Economic Outlook report, continue to threaten Africa’s long-term aspiration for a people-centred and prosperous continent.
“Peace and security breakdowns in the Central African Republic and South Sudan have resulted in the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods,” notes the 205-page report.
“A strong commitment from Africa and the international community is required to help address these crises”, it adds.
The conflict in South Sudan, Kagame said, would not have escalated into a full-scale war had its leaders taken into consideration what prompted the fight for independence.
“This country and the people there wanted to be independent. They got independence, but that turned into a problem,” he told the audience at the AfDB meeting.
Kagame, however, insisted that African leaders should work together and solve their own problems, without seeking assistance from western countries.
“Why do you have wait for Europeans to solve your problem? he asked, adding that "I think we should work together to solve our own problems".
The cost of conflict on Africa’s development between 1990 and 2005 was estimated at US $300 billion, according to a research jointly conducted by Oxfam International, International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Saferworld. This was said to be equal to the amount of money Africa received in international aid from major donors during the same period.
The study further revealed that on average, war, civil war or insurgency shrinks an African economy by 15% and that Africa loses an average of around $18 billion to armed conflict annually. Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations were reportedly involved in conflict.