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27th; march 2018, Opinion

By Dr David Himbara

You Are Jumping On Counterterrorism Bandwagon Hoping To Become Relevant To The Trump Administration.

 Kagame, the donor, holding hands with recipient of Rwandan foreign aid, Chad’s president Idriss Déby, at the African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018

Kagame’s Rwanda has joined donor nations

On March 22, 2018, Kagame donated US$1 million to the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

The G5 is a five-country partnership that is fighting Al Qaeda and Islamic State in the Sahel Region. The G5 member states are:

  • Burkina Faso
  • Chad
  • Mali
  • Mauritania, and
  • Niger

According to The New TimesKagame also pledged to provide in-kind support to the G5.

Reaction to Kagame’s foreign aid was mixed

From the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, came the following tweet:

“I wish to thank (President Kagame) for Rwanda’s generous 1million US dollar contribution in support of the G5 Sahel joint force following a meeting in Kigali today. This strong expression of solidarity with G5 Sahel countries in their fight against terrorism is greatly appreciated!”

J Claude reminded Kagame the following:

“in Rwanda the primary school teachers didn’t have their salaries from January 2018.”

Kagame is giving foreign aid to countries that are richer than Rwanda

The countries to which Kagame is giving aid are richer than Rwanda, whose GDP is US$8.3 billion. The Sahel countries have a combined GDP of US$48.1 billion with their respective GDP as follows:

  • Chad: US$9.6 billion
  • Burkina Faso: US$11.6 billion
  • Mali: US$14 billion
  • Mauritania: US$4.7 billion
  • Niger: US$8.2 billion

Why is Kagame doing this? My theory is that Kagame is scrambling to become relevant to the Trump Administration.

When the former US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson recently visited Africa, he ignored Kagame altogether, even though the Rwandan dictator is the current African Union chairman.

Ever an opportunist, Kagame realized that to become relevant to Trump, he must embrace counter-terrorism — as opposed to peace-keeping, which had made Kagame relevant to Bush and Obama. From the Tillerson visit, Kagame clearly saw that the American foreign policy towards Africa is driven by counter-terrorism. That is why Tillerson only visited countries seen to be engaged in counter-terrorism — namely, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Kagame’s foreign aid to the Sahel is, therefore, opportunistic

Kagame is no African statesman driven by solidarity to assist a Pan-African cause. He is merely jumping on the counterterrorism bandwagon by donating US$1 million and in-kind support to the Sahel Region. His ultimate goal here is to get into good books of the Trump presidency. This will not be easy for Kagame, who is Africa’s leading crony and frontman for the Clintons.