Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart President Yoweri Museveni on Sept.05 launched the inaugural Global African Investment Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Dubbed the Global African Investment Summit COMESA & Government of Rwanda (TGAIS-Rwanda), the meeting brought together African leaders, heads of State, senior policymakers and influential business leaders from across the continent.
The focus of the two-day summit was on accelerating African economic integration through trade and investment. Kigali’s new national convention and exhibition centre, now managed by Radisson Blu together with an adjoining hotel, hosted the event. The TGAIS Kigali followed closely on this year’s annual week-long celebration of Rwanda’s conservation achievements, known as Kwita Izina that ended on Sept.02. Up to 22 young gorillas were named at a ceremony attended by President Kagame and other dignitaries, including Sir David Attenborough.
Also in attendance at the TGAIS were global investors, private sector project owners, government ministers and public sector representatives. They discussed foreign investment opportunities, agribusiness, ICT and energy development. President Museveni joined the host President Kagame in an interactive thought-opening leadership panel where they discussed the challenges and opportunities the African economic landscape presents.
Commenting on the event, Sindiso Ngwenya, the secretary general of COMESA, said the coming together of so many investors could “trigger deals that will potentially herald a new era for Africa”. “This will transform and modernise the African economy and ultimately strengthen our union,” he said in a statement issued at the summit.
Kagame wants tangible results not mere talk
In the keynote address, President Kagame pushed for increased momentum and focus on tangible results rather than endless closed-door negotiations by technical experts. He underscored the importance of good governance and integration for investment.
“We know it, we believe in it. What remains is just to be doing what is necessary to make it a reality. Africa cannot just remain a story about huge potential that never materialises,” Kagame said.
He added: “Postponing our priorities and delaying our commitments are the most expensive mistakes that Africa can make. There is nothing we are waiting for, and nothing we lack. Let’s work together across sectors and borders with the right mindset of urgency, and build the Africa we want.”
During the discussions, Kagame said Africans must choose to use their time well and move forward or take their time and sink deeper into poverty. “If we increase intra-Africa trade we would solve so many problems like reversing the process where our resources go abroad and we buy products at a high price. Integration and trading with each other would ensure that we add value to our resources and avoid this trend.”
He said Rwanda was developing steadily towards its targets but there was need to ensure sustainability. He said this requires taking deliberate and concrete measures that include stability, infrastructure development and involving Rwandans. President Museveni said now was the time for African States to take integration of small markets seriously.
The TGAIS 2016 honorary advisory board is led by Olesegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria and includes, among others, Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tonny Blair, Youssef Boutros Ghali; the Egyptian former chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee of the IMF, and Baroness Lynda Chalker, a former secretary in the UK government, plus Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania.
The Kigali event was the first time the summit was taking place in Africa. It was the 3rd TGAIS to be held. The organisation says, since its inception in 2014 in London, England, the event has attracted eight presidents, 30 African ministers (Finance, Energy, Infrastructure, Transport & Agribusiness), 18 African countries with senior representation, and 1,500 global investors controlling $425 billion. It has resulted into over 200 public and private bankable projects in various sectors including energy, agriculture, housing, and infrastructure.