The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Economic Conference Opens in Kigali

International business leaders and policymakers today converge in Kigali to engage in frank and open debates on East Africa's economic prospects.

The international Economists summit organised by Economist Conferences, part of The Economist Group is expected to be opened by President Paul Kagame.

Notable among other expected dignitaries include Mizengo Pinda, Tanzania's Prime Minister.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Clare Akamanzi, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board, said the high level forum will be an opportunity to discuss the potential investment opportunities in East Africa as well as showcase Rwanda's business opportunities.

"Rwanda being one of the fastest growing economies in the region, it was chosen to host the Economist's conference," she pointed out.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the economy expanded by 9.9 per cent from April to June 2012, compared to 6.1 per cent the same period last year.

The summit held under the theme, "Infrastructure and growth: government and business in dialogue" will also discuss other topical issues, including removing trade barriers; youth and employment; and opportunities in ICT, technology, mining, transport and agriculture.

Also to be highlighted are the future trading prospects for East Africa in a globalised economy, including examining markets which will perform strongest in coming years, the most compelling opportunities for investors, and the practical steps governments should take to ensure the region maximises its economic potential.

"East Africa's prospects look better than ever thanks to recent discoveries of offshore gas in Tanzania and oil in Kenya," said Marianne Mazou, Director MEA, Economist Conferences in a statement.

"The potential exists to become one of the world's fastest growing regions, but only if governments can drive through reforms to enable a diversified economy. Building on the success of last year's conference, our East Africa Summit will explore new business opportunities with the region's most successful CEOs and investors."

The second edition of the Economists conference brings together about 150 policymakers, international business leaders and senior editors from The Economist, to ask the tough questions on what can be done to reform the trade landscape.

Tegegnework Gettu, Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director Africa, United Nations Development Programme expects the summit to be "a close and effective examination of the impact of the growth in the energy and infrastructure sectors of Eastern Africa, to ensure that economic growth rates remain high and stable."

Frank Matsaert, Chief Executive Officer of TradeMark East Africa said: "without addressing major infrastructure and trade facilitation constraints, the economic growth of East Africa could be compromised over the next decade."

Economist Conferences is the leading provider of international forums for senior executives seeking new insights into strategic issues. These meetings include industry conferences, management events and government roundtables held around the world. The Economist Group, is the publisher of The Economist magazine.

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