The Head of State delivered the message as he participated in a Fireside Chat the opening of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Kigali.
Kagame was the guest honour at the event that was also attended by the Prime Minister of Bahamas, Philip Davis; Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland and Jonathan Marland, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.
The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi has said that participants of the forum will in the next three days discuss on the future of work and economic recovery from effects of COVID-19 among others.
She highlighted that they will also seek together how technology can be leveraged to create innovations and solve problems facing Commonwealth and the world at large.
The Commonwealth comprises of 1.2 million people. Akamanzi has said that leaders attending the forum have responsibilities to create job opportunities.
Jonathan Marland thanked Rwanda for earmarked efforts for the event to happen.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland revealed that the bloc presents huge opportunities noting that investment between countries has increased by 27% since 2015.
Meanwhile, the combined GDP of Commonwealth countries in 2021 was US$13.1 trillion and is estimated to reach $19.5 trillion in 2027, almost doubling in ten years from $10.4 trillion in 2017.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the CEO of African Development Bank (AfDB) has said that common future goes hand in hand with good governance.
“As the Secretary-General said, the size of the economy of Commonwealth is about us$13 trillion but the issue is that it concentrated in five countries. These include UK, Australia, Canada, India and Nigeria. It must be well shared,” he said.
President Kagame has emphasized that Commonwealth needs to be a bloc comprised of countries with a shared vision to lift each other along the economic growth.
“With the commonwealth, we already have many things in common indeed. Be it the language, be it different systems, financial systems that would enable us to make investments, trade with each other altogether. There is a starting point that it more less, I would say, good enough.
But we need to make it better. We need to keep making sure that when we talk about the Commonwealth, we actually mean the Commonwealth. Not just being common to a few of the main 54 countries,” he said.
The Head of State called for more efforts to ensure that no country member is left behind.
“[…] this is why I said, it keeps being work in progress. We keep having to engage one another, finding out what we can do to bring that balance to the extent that everyone in the Commonwealth, the family of nations feels, they are part of it and no one is left behind,” he noted.
“I think this is what we have to focus on so that those at the low level, like it was said earlier; the small and developing nations, feel not left behind. Uplift everyone, move towards that and fulfill that obligation to the commonness that we aspire to in this family of nations whether it is trade or investments,” added Kagame.
The President also pointed out an example of COVID-19 pandemic where some countries struggled to access vaccines. He observed that there have been efforts to foster cooperation noting that it is still possible to make improvements.
“But the pace at which things move, need to be increased so that we give more value to the Commonwealth and the feelings of the people of Commonwealth,” he said.
Kagame said that there is optimism to do more based on the fact that participants seem to understand very well what they need to do.
On empowering the youth, Kagame said that young people should be involved in decision making to get the best outcomes.
“We also need to be thinking about what we do more with them than for them because they know what to do as well. It is about having access to different things they don’t have access to. We also need to get them involved. There are certain decisions that have to be made at different levels and the more they get involved in these decision making processes, the better we get the best outcomes,” he said.
“We must look at the society as a complete thing and allow different players to do their part,” he added.
The forum brought together government leaders, captains of industry and business executives, leaders of global and regional development institutions, young entrepreneurs and representatives of trade and investment organizations from across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF 2022) is the first and largest in-person gathering for governments and businesses across the Commonwealth since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing together over 1,500 delegates from Commonwealth member states.
It addresses the CHOGM theme - ’Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, with a focus on "A Global Reset", dealing with the impact of the pandemic and the Commonwealth’s role in rebuilding and reinvigorating the global economy.
Throughout the 3-days of the forum, participants will explore topics such as financing future growth, trade and regional integration, sustainability, inclusive and resilient food systems and the future of work.
There will be several sessions with discussions that shape agendas, generate insights and share best practice knowledge on strategies businesses in the Commonwealth can apply as they build back post-pandemic.