KIGALI — Rwanda President Paul Kagame has officially invited world leaders to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will be hosted in Rwanda in June next year.
In a video message, President Kagame and Commonwealth Secretary-General Mrs Patricia Scotland announced that CHOGM 2020 would be held at the Kigali Convention Centre during the week starting June 22, around the theme ‘Delivering A Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’.
President Kagame said it would be a great pleasure to welcome leaders of the Commonwealth when they gather in Kigali, highlighting that Rwanda would work hard to make everybody feel Rwanda is an extension of their home.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states and all Heads of State for these countries are expected to attend.
CHOGM 2020 comes as the Commonwealth has expressed satisfaction with Zimbabwe’s reforms following a meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mrs Scotland on Tuesday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York where it was also revealed that the process of readmitting Harare into the Club was being accelerated.
In an interview soon after meeting President Mnangagwa, Mrs Scotland said the Commonwealth had noted reforms that Zimbabwe had embarked upon under the new dispensation. She said her discussions with President Mnangagwa brainstormed on how Zimbabwe’s return to the Commonwealth could be expedited.
“We had a very good discussion. We were looking at issues that were still outstanding, you know there is a process and the process is underway. It is by no means complete; there are really interesting areas that we will continue to discuss. It was really a good meeting,” said Mrs Scotland. “There is no case of postponing. What happens is the Commonwealth has laid down a process that any applicant has to go through. It is that process that is being accelerated as quickly as possible. If you look at our process, it is step-by-step. Zimbabwe is going through all those steps just like any other country. I think there are a number of areas where Zimbabwe has made real reforms. No one is perfect and it is a journey.”
In July, the UN and Britain hailed legislative, economic and media reforms Harare is undertaking, giving impetus to ongoing re-engagement efforts.
President Kagame has indicated that the unique tenor of the CHOGM 2020 would be the focus on youth empowerment, especially through leveraging technology.
“The distinctive aspect of CHOGM 2020 will be connectivity including what young people can do with technology to create vibrant societies and develop our economies,” he noted in a video posted on Tuesday evening.
The Head of State made case for the youth and argued that it was important to look at them as an important and productive asset to transform economies across the world.
“There is no way we can see our young people as a liability. For a very clear reason, they are a huge asset and opportunity. Seeing them as liability would be a failure on our part,” he said. Creating the kind of environment that adds a lot of value to this asset of young people, he added, would be done through the provision of skills, access to technology and having them get involved more in value chains across the world. According to the statement from the Secretariat, five sub-themes have been identified for discussion: Governance and Rule of Law, ICT & Innovation, Youth, Environment, and Trade.
The Commonwealth is a club of mostly former colonies of Britain.
Rwanda, which joined the grouping in November 2009, is one of only two Commonwealth member countries with no colonial ties with the United Kingdom – the other being Mozambique. The Commonwealth is home to 2,4 billion people and includes both advanced economies and developing countries. Building on progress since CHOGM 2018 in London, leaders are expected to discuss ways the contemporary Commonwealth can transform societies, in accordance with the Commonwealth Charter values of democracy, multilateralism, sustainable development, and empowerment of women and youth.
Secretary-General Scotland stated: “I think the youth demographic we have now is a real opportunity. It’s going to be a very exciting chance for us to enable our young people to develop and deploy the skills they need so they can fulfil their potential. “By connecting, innovating and transforming, the Commonwealth opens up scope for mobilising the talent of people of all ages and backgrounds.” — New Times (Rwanda).