Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda

The Millennium Development Goals from Rwanda's Perspective

September 15, 2005 10:00 AM


by Professor Josh Ruxin

Josh Ruxin: Good Morning. Your Excellency, Honorable Ministers, and
distinguished guests, with the leaders in New York City this week to discuss the
achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, I can't imagine a greater
honor for our university than to have President Kagame here with us today
because there are so few countries in our world today that are actually on track
for achieving the MDGs. Under President Kagame's leadership, Rwanda has
become one of them. This is entirely due to the President's leadership as well as
his colleagues in government, which, among other features, happens to have the
highest representation of women in government in the world. It also has a track
record of achieving consistently those goals that it sets for itself.

It's because Rwandans are so committed to the development of their country that
Columbia University has made major investments in the country. We've got
many projects, hopefully which are detailed in the program, currently underway
and as Provost Brinkley just pointed out, we had excellent news last week which
is that we have secured funding for a millennium village in Rwanda in the village
of *Miunge. President Paul Kagame was born in Rwanda in 1957 but his parents
soon fled to neighboring Uganda to escape genocide, persecution, and violence.
In some ways I think of President Kagame as being a liberator, not just of
Rwanda but of two nations, for alongside now President of Uganda Yoweri
Museveni of Uganda, he joined in the five year liberation war in 1980, serving as
a senior officer in the Ugandan army from 1986 to 1990.

After attending a staff in command course in Kansas in 1990, he returned to
Rwanda after 30 years in exiled to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Army in the
liberation struggle. Following the liberation of Rwanda, he was appointed Vice
President and Minister of Defense in the government of National Unity in 1994,
and elected chairman of the Rwandese Patriotic Front in 1998. Two years later,
he was unanimously elected President by the transitional National Assembly and
just two years ago, following a nine year political transition period, His Excellency
was elected by a landslide in Rwanda's first-ever multiparty elections for a seven
year term and took the Oath of Office on September 12th, 2003.

Under his leadership, Rwanda has undertaken one of the most ambitious and
comprehensive development plans seen in the developing world. It's called
Vision 2020 and hopefully His Excellency will be able to elaborate on it for us
today. The main pillars are similar to those seen in the Millennium Develop Goal
and include reconstruction of national unity, democratization of government,
promotion of human resources, infrastructure, and private sector planning, and
modernization of agriculture. Please join me in welcoming His Excellency Paul

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