The New Times (Kigali)

24 January 2014

Africa: President Kagame - Continent Is Not a Charity Case

President Paul Kagame has rejected the notion that Africa needs sympathy, saying the continent was on the rise and all it needs are genuine partners as it bids to realise its potential.

The President was on Thursday evening speaking at an event dubbed "Germany meets Africa" at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which attracted both public officials and business leaders from Germany.

The event, aimed at strengthening mutually beneficial relations between Germany and Rwanda, was also attended by Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf.

"Each individual country in Africa is reforming. We are working to create the better future Africans deserve and leave the image we have come to be known for behind us.

"The belief in Rwanda is that there are no insurmountable challenges. With hard work we can succeed together as a continent," Kagame said.

Discarding the belief that Africa is a charity case, the President told the investors: "We need to change the perception that Africa is a place where people go to help, do good and sympathise. This will only change if both sides do the right thing to make sure that everyone is a winner."

Kagame said Africa is headed for continued progress, adding that investing in Africa leads to gains that go beyond monetary profits. "The return on investments made in Africa is not just good in terms of numbers. You make an impact on the ground and change people's lives. In the near future we see Africa standing on its own feet and taking its rightful place."

On the argument that Africa represents a risky investment, Kagame said that the reason for some of the risk associated with Africa is because the right investments have not been made over the years.

"With the right investments and by working together, we can make sure the risks are minimised and the benefits help address issues where they exist on our continent," he said.

Kagame shared Rwanda's story since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, underlining Rwandans' determination to transform their nation. "Twenty years ago, the country sunk so low it hit the bottom. We couldn't go lower and we couldn't stay at the bottom. The only way was up."

Introducing President Kagame, former chief executive, Barclays, Bob Diamond, described Rwanda as an example of nation building through education, technology and business friendly environment. "Rwanda is an example of rebuilding a country into one that is successful for the benefit of its citizens."

Philipp Missfelder, a member of German Bundestag, recognised the role of Rwanda's history in shaping the nation. "We should never forget what you did 20 years ago to end the Genocide and your efforts for the reconciliation efforts in Rwanda."

Kagame is among dozens of Heads of State and Government as well as business executives who are attending this year's World Economic Forum in Davos.

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