After a keynote speech by President Paul Kagame on the theme “Proudly Small” at the 45th St. Gallen Symposium, which took place in Switzerland this week, CCTV Special Contributor James Chau interviewed the President in an interactive session, during which Kagame commented on the opportunities that come with the use of social media, particularly Twitter:
You’ve just become the most followed African leader on Twitter. Just a shore over a million followers, taking over Jacob Zuma of South Africa. I think you’re actually on it quite a lot personally—so much so that your daughter who lives in America tweeted to you the other night, “it’s a little late over there, dad, isn’t it?”
But it’s much more than just number of followers. What’s the opportunity of social media? And when you look at other African presidents, your peers, of course, are they leveraging the internet to achieve social justice?
Well, I guess they should but it’s not up to me to advise them or to tell anyone what to do in regard to that. But in our case, I can speak for Rwanda or for myself—what we have been doing with social media—we look at it as a way of communicating, of narrowing the distance between us leaders and those we lead or with each other as citizens in our country. And since the tool is there, since the means are there, why don’t we just make good use of them? So that’s really the starting point.
I have personally enjoyed doing that because I directly talk to individuals who may care to talk to me also. And, by the way, a number of problems also get addressed through that. I’ve seen individuals telling me in their districts, in their villages, in different places, in the school, or wherever, there is this problem. They say, ‘President, did you know about this?” And many of them I did not know before and I have known through these channels. And I have actually activated systems to make sure that this problem is addressed, depending on the magnitude of the problem.
This is just one example. There are many cases. And it’s something that not only solves and addresses problems, it’s enjoyable also. When you are there, if you are a leader and you don’t enjoy communicating with, you know, interacting with colleagues in government or citizens on the ground. Well, that, at least I try to make the most and the best of it.
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