The first Meles Zenawi Foundation Symposium on Development has been held in the Rwandan capital Kigali August 21, 2015.
The one-day Symposium which focused on new ideas in achieving Africa’s transformation was under the theme; “The African Democratic Developmental State” was organized in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Meles Zenawi Foundation and the government of Rwanda.
According to the organisers, the Symposium was inspired by the late Ethiopian leader’s commitment to the state’s prominent role in building robust accountable institutions and facilitating rapid sustainable development, the symposium aims to foster rigorous intellectual debate on issues related to development.
The symposium’s keynote panel titled “The State and Africa’s transformation” featured Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn of Ethiopia, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur of Ghana.
A press release issued by the AfDB stated that the Late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi articulated his passion for Africa’s transformation in the following words: “In spite of the monstrous homogeneity in policy stance that we have allowed ourselves to be shackled with, there is some space for policy experimentation and diversity commensurate with our diverse circumstances. For all there diverse circumstances suggest that while we all have the same goals, and while there are bound to be some commonalties in our policies, what we really need to do is come up with a set of different options that will take us to where we want to go.”
About 200 participants including Heads of State and Government, high-level representatives of African nations, development institutions, multilateral agencies, regional trade bodies, and civil society organisations took part in the symposium.
The organisers say the deliberations from the symposium will be submitted to the African Union (AU), with the expectation that they will feed into the main AU development strategy, Agenda 2063.
Meles Zenawi died August 20, 2012 of an undisclosed illness at age 57.
He was part of a coalition of rebel groups that overthrew former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. He became Ethiopia’s president soon after, and became Prime Minister in 1995 until his death.
His supporters describe him as Ethiopia’s ‘transformational leader.’
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, in Kigali, Rwanda