President Paul Kagame has said despite the fact that everyone is an expert in talking about infrastructural development in Africa, time has come to move from just talking to real construction.
'It is up to us as Africans to sell Africa for what it is. It is not a risky continent. We need to show that there is reward for investment and that there is an environment friendly to do businesses.'
- Thierry Tanoh, CEO, Ecobank TranThe President made the remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he was a panelist on a session titled, "The Africa Context" discussing the challenges and transformation shaping leadership in Africa on Thursday.
"It is not that we do not know what to do. Everyone is good at talking about infrastructure; it is the practice that has proven difficult. People know what they are supposed to do," President Kagame said.
Kagame addressed the audience alongside the CEOs of BioTherm Energy and Ecobank Transnational, Jasandra Nyker, and Thierry Tanoh, respectively, as well as Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Finance Corporation, Jin-Yong Cai and Chairman of Eskom Holdings, Zola Tsosi.
External factors in Africa
Asked about government's involvement in projects such as the construction of Kigali Serena Hotel, which many referred to as unconventional, President Kagame said, "The same people who were stopping me are now sleeping in the hotel."
Addressing the issue of external factors influencing leadership in Africa, President Kagame said external influence is an impediment to good leadership.
"People talk about African leadership but not about external factors. Leaders don't have sufficient space to exercise leadership," the President said.
"We find that external factors are able to derail good ideas and good solutions and we find ourselves running in circles. It happens in every country, every day, at different levels."
Both Tanoh and Yong Cai echoed the argument made in the previous day's session on the need to change the perception of investment in Africa as risky.
"It is up to us as Africans to sell Africa for what it is. It is not a risky continent. We need to show that there is reward for investment and that there is an environment friendly to do businesses," Tanoh said.
The panelists also discussed the need for Africans to set the rules for external investment in Africa.
"As recipients of investors, we should be setting how investors come in our countries and here we want them to invest," Zola Tsosi said.
Human rights in MDGs
President Kagame also joined the last plenary panel of the day alongside panelists who included, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, Queen Rania of Jordan, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and Bill Gates. Titled, "The Global Development Outlook," the session discussed the success as well as the future of the Millennium Development Goals.
"We need to be seeing this in a wider context and mobilise for public private partnerships in bigger areas to ensure that what we have achieved is sustainable," President Kagame said.
Responding to human rights issues via-a-vis the future of MDGs, President Kagame stressed the need to be honest about the political nature of organisations claiming to defend human rights.
He said, "The definition is often politicised depending on who the person defined is and not what has happened. Human rights are rights lived by a person. There is no single country, person or institution that has monopoly of defining what human rights means. We need to have a debate about who has the monopoly of defining human rights."
Meanwhile, at the end of the four-day forum, President Kagame attended the launch of "Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century," a book written by Nathan Gardels and Nicolas Berggruen, investors in the East African Commodities Exchange.
A peek into democracy
The book advocates for the need to look beyond democracy as the best system of governance.
The authors argue that "for decades, liberal democracy has been extolled as the best system of governance to have emerged out of the long experience of history. Today, such a confident assertion is far from evident."
Last evening, President Kagame was expected to meet with Swedish ministers Anders Borg (Finance) and Gunilla Carlsoon (Foreign Minister) and later with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
President Kagame will end the day with an informal gathering of world economic leaders under the them, "The Future we Want from 2015."