Rwanda President Uses Soft Power to Spread Pan-Africanism.

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In light of heightened geopolitical tensions, the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame calls on African countries to cooperate and conduct more business together to effectively address the continent’s challenges. 

The President recently started a diplomatic charm offensive against this backdrop, visiting and hosting various African leaders.

President Kagame looks to be on a pan-African mission with a combination of soft power, including giving cows—a symbol of riches, friendship, and respect in Rwandan society—to other leaders as a demonstration of sincere goodwill and proactive participation by signing multiple memoranda.

This week, President Kagame hosted Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina for three days during which a Memorandum of Understanding on Multi-Sectoral Economic Co-operation was signed.

“Rwanda and Madagascar see eye-to-eye in our long-term objective to bring prosperity to our people and build a more developed Africa,” President Kagame said during a State Banquet held in honor of President Rajoelina on Monday.

In Africa, President Kagame pointed out that the pandemic, climate change, and the impact of geopolitical tensions have reversed decades of progress.

However, African countries have to work together to address these challenges.

“Having these challenges is not the issue, the problem is leaving these challenges unaddressed. And for Africa, it is really sad because what are those problems that are insurmountable that have left Africa lagging behind the rest of the world forever?” President Kagame called for a mindset shift among Africans to push back on the foreign influence that makes it difficult to work together and address their challenges.

The ongoing conflicts on the continent, he observed, reflect not only inaction but also the failure of the continent to work together to address its challenges. He added that some foreigners without mentioning names are thriving on the continent’s misery.

“If you look at the tensions, conflicts our continent is going through, you can’t help but think of what is wrong with us, and until when? There are parts of the world that have made it a point to thrive off the plight of those of us who do not appreciate ourselves. Then the next day, they turn up to tell you how they have lessons for you about human rights… After violating everything on the continent,” President Kagame said, adding that the blame should be placed on those of “ us who accept to be treated like that.”

His comments came as West Africa under Ecowas grappled with a coup in Niger which saw Western-backed President Mohamed Bazoum deposed by a military junta. But President Kagame, who has consistently called for more collaboration among African countries to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is forging ahead by signing bilateral agreements to facilitate trade between Rwanda and other African countries.

In late July, he also hosted Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso on a three-day state visit, during which, a bilateral agreement to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA was signed.

“We want to see our two countries thrive and interact more with people of our continent. We have already made progress in the area of AfCFTA. We want to make that work. We want Rwanda and Congo to be in the lead of making this progress.” President Kagame said after the signing of the AfCFTA agreement with Congo.

A few days later on July 29, Kagame hosted President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and gifted him Inyambo cows.

Analysts say this diplomatic overture not only underscores Rwanda’s aspirations for positive international relations but also underscores its determination to play a constructive and influential role in shaping the course of global affairs.

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