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On Monday, April 7, 2014, the African Development Bank held a memorial ceremony to honour the victims of the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago. The 20th anniversary, Kwibuka 20, serves as a solemn reminder to the international community to do everything it can to ensure such crimes never happen again. “Never again should this happen in human history,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “We have learnt tragic and hard lessons from 1994.”
The Bank’s commemoration was held under the theme “Never Again to Genocide” and included a minute of silence and a film projection, the lighting of candles, Muslim and Christian prayers, testimonies from survivors, as well as statements by the AfDB Executive Director for Rwanda, Mulu Ketsela, and the Bank’s First Vice-President and COO, Emmanuel Mbi. The ceremony was marked by the presence of Board Members, Senior Management and Bank staff.
Executive Director Ketsela called for our collective and individual obligations, stressing the need for preventing genocide in the continent. “Genocide is a daunting challenge and there is need for drawing lessons from what happened in Rwanda,” she said.
The First VP and COO for his part underscored the country’s ability to reconcile and rebuild. “Hopefully, such catastrophes will not happen again in our continent,” he observed.
In commemorating Kwibuka 20, the day of remembrance of the victims of Rwandan genocide, the AfDB underscored the importance of working towards peace in Africa. Kwibuka (‘Remember’) 20 serves an opportunity to remember the lives lost, to show solidarity with survivors and unite to ensure genocide never happens again – in Rwanda or elsewhere. The anniversary also serves as an occasion to share Rwanda’s story of reconciliation and nation-building with the world. On this day, the African Development Bank also remembers millions of other Africans who have died as a result of senseless conflicts.
The gathering heard from Rwandan men and women, who called for hope and peace and appealed to everyone present to believe in the country’s future and avoid such violence and heartbreak elsewhere in the region. “It is still possible to love one another and live together in spite of the tragedy we went through – but which we never want to happen again,” said Pacifique Kayihura, a Bank employee who fled the violence as a child.
Twenty years on, Rwanda has undergone tremendous change and its people are building a bright and self-reliant country. For the past two decades, the AfDB and other development partners have designed and effectively implemented sound macroeconomic policies that have greatly contributed to Rwanda’s resilience.
More specifically, the Bank has been and remains its valued partner, providing strong support to Rwanda’s economic development through private sector development, skills training and entrepreneurship, education, infrastructure, energy, agriculture and rural development projects.
According to 2013 African Economic Outlook (AEO), the country has achieved remarkable development progress since the 1994, and has managed to build a resilient nation which is recognized as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
According to the AEO, Rwanda is now consolidating gains in social development and accelerating growth through improvements in agriculture productivity; fiscal consolidation aimed at expanding the tax base and allocating adequate resources to infrastructure development; and promoting job creation through expansion of private sector credit and skills development.
“The Government has pursued key policy imperatives to achieve the target 11.5% average real GDP growth during the period 2013-2018,” the Rwandan Government’s Chief Economist, Leonard Rugwabiza, said during the launch of the 2013 AEO on November 6 in Kigali.
The day of remembrance of the victims of the Rwandan genocide has been observed each year since 2004, 10 years after the genocide took the lives of nearly a million people. The anniversary activities officially last for one week; however, the commemoration continues up to July 4, marking the 100 days of the genocide.