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Lessons African Engineers Can Learn From Rwanda’s Rebirth to Effectively Contribute to ‘Africa We Want’

by Eng. Kazawadi Papias Dedeki
11:30 am

As Rwanda commemorates the 30th anniversary of the genocide against Tutsi, a moment is etched in our collective memory with profound sadness for the lives lost. We also recognize the resilience, unity, and remarkable progress that has since defined Rwanda for the past three decades. It reflects a nation’s resolute capacity to rebuild from the ashes of despair to become a beacon of hope and development. This transformation, deeply rooted in innovative thinking and collective action, stands as a powerful testament to what we, as a continent, can do to build “The Africa We Want”.

Reflecting on my Personal Story 

Against the backdrop of a life that began amidst the trials of a young boy and girl fleeing their homeland in 1959 to seek refuge in Tanzania, my personal story stands as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit which Rwanda highly demonstrates. 

Born to teenagers who found love and solace within the confines of a refugee camp in Tanzania, my journey from those humble beginnings to the pinnacle of the leadership of the Federation of the African Engineering Organizations (FAEO) is not just inspirational, it’s a powerful reminder of how hope and determination can transcend even the most challenging circumstances.

This story isn’t merely about my ascent to a position of prominence; it’s a narrative that resonates with the ethos of struggle and the relentless pursuit of excellence by many Africans. Let us explore how the flickers of a small lamp lit by my parents in a refugee camp illuminated a path for me to become a leader whose actions are today focused on helping shape our world for the betterment of mankind.

Embracing Inspirations 

Albert Einstein once stated, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.” This assertion couldn’t be more relevant as we reflect on Rwanda’s journey and our aspirations for the Africa we want. It challenges us, the African Engineering community, to think differently, to innovate, and to drive change by leveraging our skills, knowledge, and the unique perspectives that our diverse continent offers.

President Paul Kagame’s vision for Rwanda, and by extension, his call for “the Africa we Want,” resonates deeply with our profession’s ethos. Engineers are, by nature, problem solvers, innovators, and creators. We have within our ranks the potential to catalyze and engineer solutions for our continent’s most pressing challenges—be it in infrastructure, technology, healthcare, or education. The onus is on us to harness this potential, to collaborate across borders, and to build systems and solutions that are resilient, sustainable, and inclusive.

Lessons for African Engineering Professionals 

As we mark the 30th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi, let us draw from Rwanda’s lessons of unity, resilience, and rebirth. Let us be inspired by Rwanda’s journey to harness the power of collective action and innovative thinking. It is a call to every African Engineer to contribute to a vision of an Africa characterized by prosperity, peace, and unity. In moving forward, I urge fellow African Engineers to:

  • Embrace Innovation: Look beyond conventional approaches and be open to new ideas, technologies, and methodologies that can provide sustainable solutions to our development challenges
  • Foster Collaboration: Strengthen partnerships across countries, institutions, and disciplines to leverage a continental critical mass for greater impact
  • Commit to Lifelong Learning: Stay up to date with the latest developments in our areas of specialization and adjacent sectors to ensure our engineering solutions are world-class and forward-looking.
  • Champion Resilience and Unity: In your professional engagements, embody the spirit of resilience and unity. Let our diverse backgrounds and skills be a source of strength and innovation.

Together, let us drive Africa towards a future of unprecedented growth and development, making ” Africa We Want” a tangible reality for generations to come. Leveraging our collective expertise and insights, there is no limit to what we can achieve as a united engineering fraternity dedicated to the betterment of our beloved continent.

The author is the President of the Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO). 

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