’Africa does not have to ask for a seat at the table’ - Kagame explains Africa’s potential

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 16 May 2024 at 11:39

President Paul Kagame has observed that Africa has a lot to offer on the global economic table due to its immense natural resources and young population.

He, however, pointed out that the continent’s potential is often hindered due to a lack of unity that affects sharing of the resources within the continent.

The President was speaking during the opening ceremony of the Africa CEO Forum (ACF) at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) on Thursday, May 16, 2024, themed “At the table or on the menu?”

According to President Kagame, a united continent would increase its bargaining power on the global stage.

“The more united Africa is, the more productive our engagement with partners will become. Integration for Africa’s business community is an opportunity to grow our markets and become more competitive. Africa does not have to ask for a seat at the table,” Kagame stated.

“Today almost 20 percent of the world is Africa. By the year 2050, it will be 25 percent. Soon enough, the only middle class in the world that will still be growing is Africa. As this century progresses, Africa will increasingly be one of the world’s economic engines. But to become truly prosperous, we have to upgrade our mindsets and aim for quality and turn into high-tech products and sell back to us. It’s not sustainable; it’s simple and clear."

The head of state affirmed that with the right politics and governance in the region, Africa has the potential to thrive on the global economic stage.

"This will take a lot of time and effort, but Africa can do it. In everything we do, good governance and politics play a very important role. Having the solution is not enough. The willingness to find a middle ground and not let unnecessary levels of bureaucracy get in the way can make things work better and faster," he added.

President Kagame noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents a major opportunity for African countries to adopt reforms necessary to enhance long-term growth among the member states.

“Over the years, what has become clearer is that our common challenges can be solved if we work together. For our continent, it is equally important to build a capacity to respond swiftly and efficiently to any challenge and bounce back. For example, that is why we established the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The rationale is that we have the resources but we need to be able to share them among ourselves,” he stated.

AfCFTA was established in 2018 with the aim of uniting Africa’s economies. According to the World Bank, AfCFTA has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty. This, however, significantly depends on policy reforms and facilitation measures put in place.

CEO Forum

Meanwhile, Kigali welcomes the Africa CEO Forum for the second time since 2019, when the forum made its debut in the East Africa region. More than 2,000 business leaders and government officials are gracing the CEO forum.

The participants include Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi and two prime ministers, Patrice Emery Trovoada of Sao Tome and Robert Beugre Mambe of Côte d’Ivoire. Presidents William Ruto of Kenya, Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, and Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti are also expected at the two-day event.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is hosting the event alongside the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.

The forum is expected to challenge attendees to take decisive action for Africa’s future amidst global economic uncertainties.

President Paul Kagame maintains that Africa has a lot to offer on the global economic table due to its immense natural resources and young population.