President Paul Kagame has urged Africans to seek partnerships with global players rather than handouts.
He was speaking yesterday at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington D.C, which brought together African and American business leaders to discuss opportunities for partnership.
Speaking on the panel titled "Game Plan: Shaping the Future of a Fast-Growing Continent" alongside his counterparts Macky Sall of Senegal, Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Kagame highlighted the potential to turn Africa's challenges into opportunities.
"Through this partnership, imagine the kind of growth and development than can be unleashed. But there has to be grounds on which growth can translate into development. Each of the members in this partnership has responsibilities and a role to play," he said.
Kagame emphasised the need for Africa to own up to its weaknesses and forge a way forward that ensures the continent becomes an equal partner. "We need to build our capacities and strengthen our institutions to avoid the over dependency that has been there for too long. We need to own up to our mistakes and weaknesses and contribute to our solutions. We need to tell our own story."
He emphasised the need for African nations to work together. "There is not much time to waste in terms of building consensus and working together so that we partner with others rather than be dependent on them."
The US-Africa Business Forum, the first of its kind, was co-hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The forum, part of this week's US-Africa Leaders Forum, focused on infrastructure, power, agriculture, finance and capital investments and information and communication technologies.
Other speakers included African business leaders Aliko Dangote (Nigeria), Ashish Thakkar (Uganda) and Strive Masiyiwa (Zimbabwe) as well as US policymakers such as Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Following the meeting, American business investment in Africa is expected to grow to $14 billion in business deals that will benefit both Africa and the US, officials say.
At the meeting, the Obama Administration announced efforts to extend the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which was due to expire next year, for another fifteen years.