Officials in Rwanda have called for an engaged youth which is playing an active role in regional Integration.
The call was made on Thursday during a youth symposium forum organized by Governance for Africa (GFA) in partnership with The YouLead Secretariat as part of the Pre-Summit symposia respectively organized by East African Member countries to prepare the regional youth summit which will take place next month.
The Kigali Symposium brought together youth from various universities around the country, African Union youth volunteers, members of the Civil Society organizations, and Press among many others.
During the symposium participants debated on the subject themed “State of Youth Political and Economic Inclusion: Scenarios for Sustainable Regional Integration in East Africa – Rwandan Context”
Addressing the youth symposium, the Head of Transparency International Rwanda and Chairperson of East Africa Civil Society Forum Ingabire Marie Immaculee urged the youth to grab available opportunities and play a part in regional Integration programmes.
Ingabire said “Young people must be the first to set the road to integration. When we talk about regional Integration we are talking about development.”
She dismissed the old thinking that “Rwanda is a landlocked country.”
“How are we landlocked country when I can use my phone to call anywhere I want in a moment? How are we landlocked while Rwandair is serving the whole region?”
Ingabire who was trying to show young people that Rwanda has moved to the level of opening up to the rest of the world, however said “Despite working hard nothing will be achieved if young people are not having Rwandan values in their works.”
“If you are aware of Integration, you need also to sustain Rwandan values…
“Did you know that the first wealth you have is in the values you present? We are in the region where corruption is a very serious problem; your role too must focus on that issue.” Ingabire urged
She criticized young girls who cross the borders to neighboring countries for prostitution, where she reminded youth that “This is not part of our culture; you need to advice your peers to stop such behaviors.”
Ingabire commanded the participants to preserve the national values and sell them to the region.
She also asked them to be innovative in whatever they are doing in order to remain in competition with the rest of the region.
On his side, Eugene Rwibasira, the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Organizations (RDO) said that political Integration will treat the region as one region.
He however lamented the reluctance of some regional countries that are not willing to be part of the integration process.
With the use of example, Rwibasire narrated how Africans themselves easy the free movement of white people and when it comes to their colleagues Africans things become harder.
He said all of these problems will be resolved through Integration when all people will be considered as one people.
Rwibasira noted that youth have chances to benefit from the integration and that’s why they should be tools of integration.
Cyrus Nkusi, the Chief Executive Officer of Governance for Africa Rwanda said that the integration policy is not still a problem; however, he said the remaining problem is youth who are not willing to change the mindset.
“There is a problem of lack of political will in some countries but also youth who are not willing to change mindsets.
“At the regional level, what are we selling? It is not about Rwandan culture only but how are we leveraging what we do to make impacts on the region?” Nkusi asked
“We don’t have culture of hiding. We need to change our attitudes.” Nkusi concluded before calling for teamwork in designing programs that can help in popularizing the East Africa Integration in their respective domains.
The East Africa Youth Leadership Summit, abbreviated as YouLead has been organised since 2017 in line with the provisions of the East African Community (EAC) Youth Policy (2016) priority 14 which mandates the EAC Secretariat to build networks and partnerships to, ‘Institute an annual youth leaders’ forum with the EAC Secretary General as a regional platform for youth engagement with the EAC leadership.’
In 2017 YouLead summit brought together approximately 250 youth leaders and supporters within government, NGO and business organizations from across the East African region.