The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Kagame Backs Private-Public Sector Dialogue

President Paul Kagame has strongly backed the public-private sector dialogue as a channel that will address the challenges hampering the improvement of doing business in Rwanda.

The Head of State made the remarks yesterday while meeting members of the private sector in a dialogue known as "Presidential Investors Round Table" in an event held at Petit Stade in Kigali.

The annual event organized by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) to give business leaders/investors in the country an opportunity to dialogue with the President and share ideas on issues pertaining to the private sector also attracted members of the public sector.

"Private sector is a pillar for social and economic transformation of our country and I support the dialogue between the private and public sector to seek solutions to the challenges that might be affecting the growth of the private sector," said Kagame.

He observed that Rwanda has come far to achieve the developments and there was still a long way to go to realize the country's development strategies, which he said strong partnership between the private and public sector was needed to realise the government's development vision.

"Our development will be a result of how hard we work and collaborate to achieve mutual benefits because if we don't, the consequences of not working hard will be very difficult for us to address," the President emphasized.

He added that if people don't work hard to develop themselves and their country, they will end up being poorer and start begging, the rich will step over the poor, which will end up putting the country into dilemma.

Kagame urged the private sector to include everybody in their business growth. "When you own a business, it's not just about your profit, it is about all those (Rwandans in general) who help you achieve it. We must continue to work hard to ensure the benefits are shared by all."

On Rwanda's GDP, the President said that, there is a need to double or triple it from 10 percent to 20-30 percent and this will come from working hard and strong partnership between the private and public sectors.

"For all of you who have heard the testimonies of success today, have you ever heard that people can be successful without hard work....? There is no body, even if luck is there in life it goes hand in hand with hard work," the President emphasized.

"The dialogue like this provides a platform where we address challenges and find solutions together and improve the business environment in this country."

The forum that was held under the theme "let us support development through dialogue between public and private sector" brought together over 2500 members of the business community/investors from all the four provinces and the Kigali City.

The President then held an interactive session with members of the private sector who asked him a wide range of issues including the unfavourable labour laws, the investment code, pension for foreigners, skills gap among workers, challenges in health, and energy sectors among others.

Reacting to some of the challenges raised at the forum , the President asked the private sector why delay their work to reach at the extent of being fined by the government, adding that fines should be applied to both private and public sector for late payments.

Kagame also challenged the private sector to employ skilled people who know what to do and encouraged Rwandans to learn vocational and technical skills and stop relying on expatriates.

The Head of state urged the private sector to invest highly in the energy and ICT sectors and also called upon the public to change their mind set regarding the use of ICT.

"ICT should benefit all people in this country starting from the grassroots. Farmers should use mobile phones to know market prices for their produce and these phones should be affordable to them, "the president noted.

Kagame thanked the private sector for supporting Gir' Inka and Agaciro Development programmes. "Providing for ourselves is a foundation of our dignity. We haven't started using the Agaciro Fund, but if it starts the benefits will be immense and not based on criticisms."

He said that Rwanda exports should increase and reduce on imports saying that what the country imports doubles five times what it exports.

At the event, some of the members of the business community shared their testimonies about the transformation of their small businesses into huge investments due to the country's good leadership.

At the occasion, Faustin Kananura Mbundu, Chairman of the PSF highlighted the achievements and challenges within the private sector and thanked the Head of State for honouring their invitation at the event.

"As members of the private sector we are committed to contribute to the country's development but we need strong partnership from the public sector," he said.

The private sector dialogue has been taking place since 2006.

In October the government, in partnership with the private sector, launched a platform where the private and public sectors come together to improve the business environment. The initiative dubbed Rwanda Private Public Dialogue (RPPD) will be facilitated by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

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