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KAGAME: `Walk the talk’

Kagame tells world leaders at Davos

President Paul Kagame has urged fellow African leaders to “walk the talk” on a variety of urgent development issues including digital connectivity and trade.

Speaking at several forums during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Kagame said “there is no shortcut to success” away from having a vision as a nation, crafting a strategy to achieve it, and sticking with it.

“You have to put rules and laws but above all you have to respect them. There has to be a vision and a strategy to realise that vision and then it has to be carried through. There is no shortcut.

“Success is result of mindset across the country that we have to measure ourselves against results,” he said on Jan. 18, his second day in Davos.

He was speaking on the topic of `Rebuilding a nation’ during a CNBC televised debate moderated by CNBC Editor-in-Chief, Bronwyn Nielsen. The topic for discussion was “Building Africa”.

Kagame said Rwandans have been single-minded about doing the best they can in order to reverse the history of their country.

Panelists in the debate included Oluyemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria, Phuthuma Nhleko, Executive Chairman, MTN Group, and Siyabonga Gama of Transnet.

Speaking on intra Africa trade, President Kagame argued that it was time for African leaders to institute changes needed for it to happen.

“We keep talking about intra African trade or how it is difficult for Africans to move across Africa, but nothing changes. There is a contradiction in our quest for prosperity and the things we know we have to do but don’t do,” he said.

On his part, he said he was filled with pride when a major construction project that was built by Rwandan, Kenyan, and Zimbabwean engineers was recently inaugurated in Rwanda.

“When we are talking about skills, there are many Africans who can deliver but we need to give them opportunities.

“Things are happening in Africa but we need a sense of urgency to do the things that have not been done.”

President Kagame pointed out that if African leaders stay focused and do the right thing, Africa should not be having the same problems it has now in the next 10-15 years.

President Kagame was to return to this theme the next Jan.19 when he spoke on a panel “Shaping a National Digital Strategy”. The panel aimed at discussing how national digital strategies unlock leapfrogging opportunities for countries.

Speaking the highly interactive session, Kagame told his audience that Africa is starting from a low base but aims to move as fast as possible, with the understanding that the benefits outweigh the risks.

“We focus on solutions and get rid of problems,” said.

This session was moderated by Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the panel included Herman Gref,CEO and Chairman of the Board, Sberbank, Russia, Doris Leuthard,President of the Swiss Confederation elect 2017 and Federal Councillor of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications of Switzerland and Gavin Patterson,CEO, BT Group, United Kingdom.

The President said the private sector has a vital role in national digital strategy development. He said governments must play the pivotal role in integrating digital technology into policy and making sure the implications are understood by the people and distributed equitably, while the private sector, as a partner, bring in innovation and investment.

He said the Public-private partnership is vital in digital development with the understanding that connecting the unconnected opens up huge potential.

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