The New Times (Kigali)

23 January 2013

Rwanda: Africa Should Write Own Story ? Kagame

President Paul Kagame has said that Africans should tell their own story to avoid outsiders misrepresenting the continent.

The President made the remarks yesterday while contributing to the discussion: "De-risking Africa", one of the topical issues addressed at the World Economic Forum.

"The major problem I see is that Africa's story is written from somewhere else and not by Africans themselves," Kagame said.

"That is why the rest of the world looks at Africa and Africans and wants to define us. They want to shape the perception about Africa."

Kagame's comments followed presentations from panellists, including South African president Jacob Zuma, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Bharti Airtel CEO, Sunil Mittal.

"The best thing we can do for ourselves is own our problems, own our solutions and write our own story. That will also give the right definition about the levels of risk, and the perception part coming from outside will also be put in its right place," Kagame added.

South African President, Zuma also criticised the theme of the discussion, which he said was creating the impression that Africa was too risky for business.

"What is risky about Africa that needs de-risking," he said as the CNBC host of the discussion laboured to rephrase the questioning.

In a related development, at the Forum yesterday, President Kagame was expected to join Nicolas Berggruen of Berggruen Holdings, Wiebe Boer of Heirs Holdings and Jendayi Frazer of 50 Ventures in unveiling to the world the East Africa Exchange (EAX Rwanda).

EAX Rwanda is the first part of a regional exchange intended to increase transparency in the region's commodity markets.

Through private sector-led investment and under an agreement signed with the government, the East Africa Exchange aims to increase regional market efficiency and liquidity, as well as giving the region's population of 130 million, especially smallholder farmers, better access to markets.

The exchange will initially focus on establishing an auction facility and spot trading for agriculture and non-agriculture commodities, as well as develop futures trading across East Africa.

It is a joint venture between Berggruen Holdings (a part of the Berggruen Institute on Governance), Heirs Holdings, 50 Ventures and Rwandan-led Ngali Holdings.

EAC Market focus

EAX will complement the East African Community goal of regional economic integration as set out by the Common Market Protocol, increasing liquidity and sustainability of regional financial and commodity markets and supporting the EAC's competitiveness globally.

It will also uplift national and regional economies by reducing market barriers to trading and providing a transparent regional economy through a secure mechanism that facilitates financing to farmers and traders.

Meanwhile, President Kagame yesterday attended a breakfast meeting with Global Business Leaders at the Forum. The breakfast was hosted by former British PM Tony Blair and Chairman Meridian Group Marc Holtzman.

The interactive session was an opportunity for investors such as the CEO of Heineken Group to share their experience with what they described as accessible and efficient.

Participants were drawn from various sectors, including IT and agriculture who expressed interest in investing in Rwanda.

The four-day World Economic Forum is taking place at the mountainous Swiss resort, Davos.

A regular participant at the forum, President Kagame will be attending a variety of panels with topics, including "Africa's economic growth" and "The largely untapped potential for agriculture investment".

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