23 March 2011

Africa: Continent is Ready for Business - Kagame

London — President Paul Kagame, on Monday, said that Africa is ready for business, and has untapped opportunities ready for investors.

He was addressing an audience of over 80 Chief Executives and investors at the Times CEO Africa Summit in London.

"With high consistent growth and a multitude of opportunities, this fact should be an obvious one, but it is often clouded by negative and unfounded perceptions." The President said.

To address these misperceptions, President Kagame challenged the audience of investors to base their decisions to invest in Africa on facts and realities of each country, rather than sweeping generalizations of the continent.

"Will there be a change of attitude towards Africa that supports trade and investment aspirations? The same question goes to Africans themselves: whether they have the attitude to believe in themselves and to act in ways that promote investment." he added

The President noted that Africa has shown remarkable resilience, recovering quickly from the global economic downturn.

According to projections by the African Development Bank, Africa is expected to grow at an average of more than 5% in 2011.

Rwanda's economy alone is projected to grow by over 7 % annually in the next three years. Last year, the country registered a 7.4% GDP growth.

President Kagame noted that by 2020, the number of middle class Africans will almost double, with combined consumer spending of USD $1.4 trillion, something of great significance to the continent.

"This is a significant part of the population, both as consumer and workforce. That is why, in Rwanda, we are investing in health, education and training, science and technology to create a knowledgeable and skilled labour force ready for this new economic reality."

James Harding, Times Chief Editor, said that Rwanda, under President Kagame, is an undeniable example of a country that has defied all the stereotypes of an African nation.

Kagame pointed to his country as a clear example of a country where good policies have led to results. With regional integration and reforms encouraging public-private partnerships and investment in its people, Rwanda is achieving rapid and sustained growth.

"We need strong partnerships between business and governments that turn opportunities not only into profitable ventures, but also have a lasting positive impact on the social and environmental wellbeing of citizens." He added.

The President added that Rwanda has public-private partnership opportunities in mining, energy generation and distribution as well as infrastructure development.

He cited the construction of a new international airport and a regional railway line linking the country to the port of Dar es Salaam and other railway lines to EAC states that aren't effectively serviced.

President Kagame also noted that Agriculture remains a sector with a lot of growth potential as well as ICT, banking and other financial services, which have been steadily modernized and are ready for investment.

"I can confidently say that Rwanda is open to business, and you will find us to be people who play by the rules and respect our commitments." he said.

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