Friday, 17.02.2017 - Rwanda

Interview with Kurt Beck, President of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

During the opening ceremony of the FES office in Kigali, former Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Kurt Beck, gave an interview about the work of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Rwanda.

What was the occasion that led to the opening of an office in Rwanda?

Rwanda faces the great task of reconciling its society after incisive historical events. What the Rwandan government and especially the people in Rwanda have done so far concerning reconciliation deserves our utmost respect. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, together with our Rwandan partners, wants to contribute to social inclusion through advocating for a strengthening of social security for all parts of society. Part of that is also a strengthening of the already existing possibilities for civic engagement and participation.

We see many positive developments in Rwanda, especially in the health and education sector, which are recognized worldwide. Generally the people of Rwanda have shown an impressive willingness to shape their country and to take their destiny into their own hands. It is a great wish and concern for Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - and to me personally as well- to contribute to a sustainable development in Rwanda, so that all groups of society can profit from the progress made.

Also the country is gaining more and more importance on the African continent. Whether ways to reach the goals of the Agenda 2030 or a reform of the structures of the African Union (AU) are discussed: Rwanda is approached more and more often to share its ideas and experiences, also internationally, and does so successfully.

What are the main points of focus on our future work in Rwanda?

At the center of our work here at our new office will be the promotion of social security for workers and employees- in the formal as well as the informal sector. Cooperation with trade unions and civil society on this topic is especially important. In the face of a growing Rwandan economy, we want to exchange views about just economic growth for all. We would like to encourage young people to share their own opinions and views with the wider society.

What goals does FES pursue in Africa in general?

For more than 40 years now FES has stood and continues to stand for the values of social democracy in Africa and is working for social justice, democracy, peace and international solidarity on the continent together with its partners. FES contributes to dialogue about peace and security, migration and processes of economic transformation. In order to strengthen the representation of interests of workers, we put an emphasis on political education and international networking.

But Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung does not only want to have an impact right here on the ground in Africa. We speak up for treating the countries of Africa as global partners. The role of Africa has to be strengthened in the global regulatory framework. This is not only about migration, but also about a strategic and fair trade partnership with the African continent.

There is a strong connection between the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda that has been established decades ago. How did this partnership come into being?

For more than 30 years there has been cooperation between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda. The partnership association’s program, in which many initiatives such as schools, hospitals and communal initiatives are active, shows us that an exchange not only between states and countries, but also between societies is important if we want to learn from each other. When I was still the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate I realized during my visits to Rwanda, that a lot of trust between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda had already been built.

Photos (by FES/Patrick Nsengimana)


House KG 13 Ave, 14, Nyarutarama, Gasabo district - Remera sector
Kamashashi cel
Kigali – Rwanda

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