President Uhuru Kenyatta today joined other Heads of Government at the Commonwealth leaders’ summit that focused on post-Covid recovery and sustainable development.
The official opening ceremony of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held at the Kigali Convention Centre was presided over by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales who represented Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth.
Speaking at the event, Prince Charles emphasised the importance of the Commonwealth family. “…we should never forget the things which do not change: the close and trusted partnership between Commonwealth members; our common values and shared goals; and, perhaps most importantly, the strong and enduring connections between the peoples of the Commonwealth which strengthen us all,” Prince Charles said.
The opening ceremony was also addressed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who said the developed world had an obligation to help members of the Commonwealth to cope with the global challenges including climate change and food security that they have had no hand in causing.
Prime Minister Johnson said during UK’s time as Chair-in-Office, the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub mobilised over $38 million for the most vulnerable members but emphasized the need to press on for more to be done.
On the promotion of education for the girl child, the UK Prime Minister reported that the UK’s initiative of £212 million for the Girls’ Education Challenge announced at the last CHOGM in London in 2018 is now at work in 11 Commonwealth countries, ensuring that girls are able to gain at least 12 years of quality education.
“We need to empower them to play their full part in the economy when they leave school, so the UK is funding the “She Trades” Commonwealth programme, which has already helped over 3,500 women-owned businesses to become more competitive and generate more than £32 million of sales,” the PM said.
Host and incoming Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda paid tribute to Her Majesty The Queen, for championing the growth both in number and the scope of the Commonwealth family over her 70 years of service.
He highlighted the existential threat of climate change to small islands and developing states, and unlocking the potential for new technologies to create jobs for young people as some of the issues requiring urgent attention.
“The Commonwealth we need is on the frontlines of global challenges, not on the peripheries, watching events unfold. Our special strength is to bring issues into focus that might otherwise be overlooked,” President Kagame said.
On her part, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the economic damage of Covid, the mounting debt and the rapid intensification of climate change pose existential dangers that CHOGM must address.
“This CHOGM is, first and foremost, an opportunity to find answers to these questions. It will not be easy. The solutions will simply not ride up here onto the stage and present themselves before us.
“We must talk and listen to each other, and give all that we have to achieve progress for the 2.5 billion people we – you –represent,” the Commonwealth Secretary-General said.
Later, President Kenyatta attended the executive sessions one and two of the summit where the leaders deliberated more on the priorities of the Commonwealth and re-elected Patricia Scotland as the Secretary-General.