Home NewsNational 78th UNGA: President Kagame Kicks Off Busy Week In New York (PHOTOS)

78th UNGA: President Kagame Kicks Off Busy Week In New York (PHOTOS)

by Edmund Kagire
6:05 am

President Kagame speaks at the SDGs Digital Day ahead of 78th UNGA. Photos Urugwiro Village.

President Paul Kagame is in New York where he kicked off a busy week of activities ahead of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with a series of engagements, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Digital Day on Sunday.

The Head of State on Sunday at the UN Headquarters in New York, participated in the SDG Digital Day alongside Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, and Microsoft Vice-Chair and President who is also an SDG Advocate, Brad Smith, to discuss how digital technologies can accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs.

Speaking at the event is co-organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UNDP, commended the two UN bodies for their efforts to accelerate digital transformation and development,  particularly for accompanying Rwanda throughout the development journey, and for putting digital empowerment at the heart of the strategy to achieve the SDGs.

President Kagame, who is the co-chair of the Broadband Commission, whose mission is to ensure equitable access to high-speed internet for all, used the opportunity to highlight the challenges that remain to get people online, particularly in developing countries, and the urgency there is to do so.

“All over the world, we are witnessing the power of technology to transform lives. Unfortunately, a third of the world’s population still remains offline. To reach universal connectivity, we must reduce costs, and invest in digital skills and access to smart devices,”

“Everyone has their part to play to unlock these results, both in the public and private sectors, and still, these challenges are too big for anyone to solve alone,” President Kagame said, reiterating the need to implement the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, which he said provides a strong framework for countries and institutions to work together to implement the SDGs.

“Rwanda also supports ITU’s call to the public and private sectors, to increase their pledges for the Partner2Connect Digital Coalition, to 100 billion dollars by 2026. Of the 30 billion dollars already raised, almost half will be used to enhance digital connectivity in Least-Developed Countries,” he said.

“This shows that we are taking positive steps in the right direction to build digital capacity where it can have the greatest impact,” the Head of State added.

Rwanda, Africa’s efforts to close digital gap

President Kagame also spoke about Rwanda’s initiatives with development partners to advance technological advancement and close the digital gap.

“In Rwanda, through the GIGA initiative, spearheaded by ITU and UNICEF, we are seeing first-hand the value of partnership. The pilot project in 63 schools has made connectivity faster and cheaper,”

“In Africa, we are blessed to have a young and vibrant population, which is passionate about entrepreneurship and self-improvement. We cannot afford to have the digital divide stifle their creativity and productivity,”

Deputy UN Secretary-General Amina Mohammed speaks at the SDGs Digital Day

“Connecting them online, in a safe and meaningful manner, is about giving them the opportunity to compete in the global market, and achieve their full potential,” President Kagame said, highlighting the role artificial intelligence can play in this process.

“To cross the finish line, and achieve the SDGs, we need to leverage the power of this technology [AI]. We have to keep in mind that it must work for us, not against us,” he said commending the ITU, for convening the A.I. for Good Global Summit, earlier this year.

Convening PAC

Later in the afternoon, President Kagame chaired the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), as he normally does every year in New York, around this time. The meeting brings together Rwandan and international experts who offer strategic advice to the President and the Government through PAC.

The meeting in New York discussed innovative and practical solutions towards sustaining Rwanda’s socio-economic progress, as well as regional and global issues of importance to the country.

President Kagame chairs PAC in New York.

The General Debate of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly will be held from Tuesday, 19 September, to Saturday, 23 September, and Tuesday, 26 September 2023 where world leaders will discuss global issues. President Kagame is scheduled to deliver Rwanda’s National Statement on the second day of the General Debate on Wednesday, 20 September 2023.

Held under the theme “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all,” this year’s General Debate of the UN General Assembly will discuss key issues affecting different parts of the world, including climate change, poverty reduction, food security, war and armed conflicts, inflation, and other humanitarian needs that have been escalating in scale and cost.

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