Rwanda is having another go at hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) after the event was postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting will now be held starting the week of June 20, 2022.
The new date was announced in a joint communiqué by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
CHOGM was due to have been held in Kigali in June 2020 but was postponed that year and also in 2021 after it was deemed unsafe for the delegates to convene in Rwanda at a time the pandemic was still raging.
“Rwanda is pleased to welcome all delegates and participants to Kigali for a safe and productive CHOGM Rwanda 2022. The last two years have made it clear to us that we are more connected than ever before and we must work together to achieve the tangible and sustainable results we want.
“The long awaited meeting will be an important occasion to come together to address the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and to build on innovative technological and economic opportunities to solve other key problems facing our citizens,” said President Kagame in a statement.
Ms Scotland said, “Our meetings in Rwanda will give us a real opportunity to reaffirm the values that bind the Commonwealth together and focus on vital issues, including the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling climate change and poverty, boosting trade and promoting sustainable development – all issues that can only be dealt with decisively through multilateral cooperation and mutual support.”
The confirmation of the new dates gives the government and private sector players less than five months to prepare for the event and put in place all the products and services that will be needed to host the delegates.
Some of the preparations, especially on the side of government, have been ongoing. These include improving road infrastructure and the construction of new access routes around the city in a bid to decongest the city and facilitate smooth transportation for the delegates.
Postponing CHOGM for two consecutive years affected many private sector players, especially those who had won tenders to offer certain services—some had taken bank loans to increase their financial capacity to offer services to the delegates.
It is, however, early to ascertain that the meeting will not be postponed again as the virus is still here, with countries recording new variants.
The announcement that the meeting will still be held in Rwanda gives optimism to the business community in the country.
CHOGM, a meeting of countries that were once colonies of Britain or who subscribe to the grouping, is customarily held every two years and is the Commonwealth’s highest consultative and policy-making gathering.
Rwanda, which was a former French colony and has historic association with Francophone countries, joined the British Commonwealth in 2009.
Commonwealth leaders first selected Rwanda as host for their next summit when they met in London in 2018. It was, however, postponed twice due to Covid-19.
“We have adapted throughout the pandemic, holding ministerial meetings online. It is with great joy and anticipation that I look ahead to a face-to-face Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.
“This will be the first CHOGM to be held in Africa for over a decade and I would like to commend the Government and people of Rwanda for their outstanding commitment and dedication to delivering an exemplary CHOGM in Kigali.
“I thank all Rwandans for their grace and fortitude in undertaking such detailed preparations to ensure a safe, secure and productive CHOGM that drives the Commonwealth forward in these trying times,” said Ms Scotland.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 independent and equal sovereign states with a combined population of 2.5 billion, of which more than 60 per cent is aged 29 or under.
Original story on The East African