Kagame was speaking at the Global Business Forum Africa 2021 held in Dubai on Thursday 14th October 2021.
Despite the fact that COVID-19 brought unprecedented effects on African continent and the rest of the world, the President said that the pandemic is becoming more manageable as vaccine distribution improves globally.
“Travel and commerce are beginning to recover. However, we are not going back to the same economy that we knew in 2019. Some of the changes will be profound and lasting. The crisis in international shipping and transportation is already generating new thinking,” he noted.
As the world continues to recover, Kagame highlighted that manufacturing and supply chains will need to become more resilient, more local, and more technologically advanced and expressed optimism to make it possible through new innovations.
“Fourth Industrial Revolution innovations in artificial intelligence and 3D printing, for example, are making it possible to make products almost anywhere, at a competitive cost. Similarly, life-saving vaccines and other pharmaceuticals will increasingly be produced in a decentralized fashion, including in Rwanda, thanks to advances in engineering, and good partnerships with companies like BioNTech and others,” he said.
“These changes were already underway before the COVID-19 pandemic, but are now likely to accelerate,” added Kagame.
By the time the pandemic emerged, Kagame said that Africa was well-prepared in at least one important respect where the ‘African Continental Free Trade Area, which was decades in the making, had just entered its operational phase in July 2019’ as more efforts are underway.
“Africa is now the largest free trade area in the world, in terms of the number of countries, since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Last week, the 15th ratification of the African Medicines Agency treaty was deposited with the African Union, and the treaty will therefore come into force next month. The establishment of this body will be a game-changer for Africa’s ability to produce high-quality vaccines and medicines for our continent,” he noted.
Despite achieved milestone, the President highlighted that the progress of African economic integration will mean ’more trade and investment between Africa and the rest of the world, not less’.
He pointed out an example of successful cooperation where the United Arab Emirates, and Dubai in particular, have long played a key role in linking Africa to the wider global economy noting that the inter-connectedness has been mutually beneficial ‘and we wish to continue to deepen those collaborations’.
Considering adverse effects of the pandemic to families, businesses and the anticipated journey to return to normalcy, Kagame also stressed the need to seize generated opportunities to strive for a better future.
“The Covid pandemic has been an extremely difficult period. Families and small businesses have experienced a great deal of loss. And while the worst may be behind us, the road back to normal is still long,” he affirmed.
“That is why we have a responsibility, amidst all this disruption, to maximize the strengths and assets that Africa does have. We must also strive to seize the new opportunities that have been generated to work with partners to build a more prosperous and cooperative future for all of us,” enthused Kagame.
The forum which took place from 13th to 14th October in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; GBF Africa offered businessmen and investors valuable insights and up-to-date information on a plethora of promising investment opportunities.
The forum also facilitates cooperation between business communities in Africa and the UAE to help African companies benefit from Dubai’s experience in building an integrated digital economy rooted in cutting-edge technologies.