THE NEW TIMES
by James MUNYANEZA
Photo: President Kagame and Howard Buffett share a light moment during the International Quality of Life Award held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro
Rwanda values organisations and individuals that do not seek to impose their will but rather align their support with the priorities of the recipient countries, President Kagame has said.
The President was on Tuesday speaking in New York where he delivered a keynote speech on the occasion to honor Howard G. Buffett, an American philanthropist, for his significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in developing countries, including Rwanda.
“As we, in Rwanda, look back on our journey of recovery and nation building and as we reflect on the core values of dignity and self-determination that guide our efforts, there are organisations and individuals whose partnership and support stand out. Howard’s is one of them,” he said.
For his work in making significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences honoured Howard with the International Quality of Life Award.
Buffett is chair and chief executive of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalised populations.
Describing him as a unique partner, the President said the IQLA laureate was different from many visitors from foreign governments, academic institutions and NGOs, who arrive in Africa with “preconceived ideas based upon where they come from, what they have heard or read”
Some of these partners, Kagame said, while they often come to the region with good intentions, tend to believe that they understand the situation better than those they seek to help, thereby making the mistake of being overly prescriptive.
“However, Howard [Buffett] has been different. He came to our region with an open mind, ready to listen, learn and share; and not to dictate – and he genuinely used what he learned to inform his actions and investments,” the Head of State told the audience.
“Howard [Buffett] has been a friend to many, including the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa for more than fifteen years. He has made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life that should be recognised and respected,” the President said of the laureate.
In the case of Rwanda, Kagame said, Howard [Buffett] has “sought to understand the country and brought in support and perspective that have helped address our particular challenges.”
Photo: A busy Rwanda-DR Congo border post. The country’s capacity building could grow through leaps and bounds with partners such as Howard Buffett who give unconditionally. The New Times/ File
Approach to partnerships
Sharing Rwanda’s approach to partnerships, President Kagame explained that in order to achieve the country’s national vision and overcome adversity, Rwanda has continued to challenge conventional wisdom.
“Our situation has taught us to value and appreciate people of conviction who have the courage to do the right thing even when it is considered controversial by others. Howard [Buffett] is one of those people,” he added.
President Kagame said when he met Buffett in August, the American philanthropist committed to two things: partnering to modernise and develop DRC-Rwanda border post; and supporting Rwanda’s Strategic Capacity Building Initiative to strengthen government institutions.
In a statement released yesterday, the Howard Buffett Foundation announced a US$3.7 million grant for the Government of Rwanda Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).
“Rwanda’s development successes can be attributed to its aid effectiveness and its investments in governments and institutions,” Buffett said.
“If Western donors truly want to support African-led development, and bring an end to Africa’s reliance on outside aid, it’s critical they support important efforts like SCBI.”
President Kagame also lauded the American for his Africa Great Lakes Peace Initiative which seeks to fund specific development projects in eastern DR Congo, with the President saying this “will play a significant part in lasting peace and stability that is sought in the DRC and beyond”
“Howard’s work should serve as an example to those who want to build meaningful partnerships that make an actual difference in the lives of those who need it the most,” the President said of the recipient of the IQLA.
Howard, the eldest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, also operates a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois, and is involved with improving production practices for smallholder farmers in developing countries in Africa and Latin America.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, received a lifetime achievement award. Other notable attendees were UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and actress Eva Longoria.
Contact email: james.munyaneza[at]newtimes.co.rw
Source: The New Times