President Paul Kagame; African Union’s New Chair-2018. Third Chair from East Africa since the AU’s establishment in 2001.

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President Kagame of Rwanda-the 16th African Union Chair (African Union Image)

President Kagame was in optimist mode about Africa’s potential to hasten its prosperity through technology-rather than industrialisation-as he stepped into his new role as Chairperson of the African Union.

“Africa’s defining challenge is to create a pathway to prosperity for our people, especially the young people. Elsewhere this has been achieved through industrialisation. But the growth trajectory that transformed Asia is no longer a viable option for Africa, simply because we waited too long to act,” he observed in his acceptance remarks.

“Technology has developed so rapidly in recent years, that Africa’s window to follow that strategy is narrowing much more rapidly than previously understood.  We are running out of time and must act now to save Africa from permanent deprivation,” the new Chair concluded.

His remarks were in sync with the AU’s 2018 theme: Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.

His election also marks his role as leader of the reform process and his focus will be on leading the creation of a single continental market, infusing technology into Africa’s economies and the integration of  Africa’s  infrastructure.

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African Union Passports. Presidents Paul Kagame (left) and Idriss Deby (Chad) display their diplomatic AU passports at the 27th AU summit-Kigali. They were the first two heads of state to acquire the passports.                                      

Kagame has gained a reputation for being practical and leading in transforming Rwanda. Rwanda’s infrastructural development for example is to impressive standard, a feat that has been attained in a short time frame.

In 2016, Rwanda became the world’s first country to use drones to deliver blood to remote transfusing facilities in the country.  Those that have visited Kigali-its capital-remark of its cleanliness with a no trash littering policy that is generally followed by citizens.  The UN named Kigali the most beautiful city in Africa in 2016.

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Kigali city-Internet image

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Kigali-named most beautiful city by UN in 2016

Kagame was elected by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the supreme organ of the AU. A Chair has to garner 2/3’s majority to be elected.

His predecessor was the President of Guinea-Alpha Conde with his nomination placing him as the third Chair from East Africa to be nominated to the position. The previous ones were Jakaya Kikwete (31st January 2008-2nd February 2009)-former President Tanzania and Ethiopia’s then Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (27th January 2013-January 2014).

He will be assisted by 4 Vice Chairs including

1st Vice Chair H.E. Mr. Faiz El Saraj, President of the Presidential Council of Libya (North Africa)

2nd Vice Chair H.E Mr. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa

3rd Vice Chair H.E Mr. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo (Central Africa)

4th Vice Chair H.E Mr. Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinee ( West Africa)

(Most information obtained from the AU’s website).

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