President Paul Kagame, on Thursday, met with 80 members of the Young Presidents Association (YPO) from 17 countries who are visiting the country as part of the YPO Rwanda Life Changing Experience trip.
The organisation is the largest global network of business leaders with more than 24,000 members from 130 countries. YPO member-run companies employing a total of 16 million people and generate USD6 trillion in annual revenues, according to their website.
The “Rwanda Life Changing Experience trip”, according to the coordinator, Thomas Krulis, is to allow the 80 YPO members to visit the country and learn about available investing opportunities.
“They want to be part of Rwanda’s success story. They have even brought members of their families to be impacted here. The President wanted YPO members to learn about what is happening here in Rwanda – to invest their hearts before they can invest their money. It was indeed a life changing meeting,” Krulis said.
“The President said that coming to visit and invest in Rwanda could be a gateway to other African markets,” he added.
YPO members have been coming and involved in Rwanda – mainly through investments for about 20 years now, Krulis said. He added that this is the biggest delegation to the country from the global platform.
YPO Africa Great Lakes Chapter has 36 members drawn from its target market including Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, East Congo and South Sudan including a number of overseas members who have a specific interest in the region. The chapter is headed by Emery Rubagenga.
80 members of the Young Presidents Association from 17 countries are visiting the country as part of the YPO Rwanda Life Changing Experience trip. / Village Urugwiro
During their meeting, President Kagame answered questions from the members on a range of topics including Rwanda’s post-genocide transformation journey and the country’s vision going forward.
“We have left the emergency situation behind us. We are no longer trying to survive, we are living,” President Kagame told YPO members on Rwanda’s transformation.
The Head of State noted that the government has since 1994 invested in people, health, education, security, stability and this has paid off in so many ways, among them being that life expectancy of Rwandans has increased from 41 to 67 years old.
“The challenge for us is how do we sustain this progress? How do we reach everyone, make sure people can feed themselves and that we are getting investments that make everything sustainable.
24 years ago, life expectancy was 41 years old, now it is 67 years old. We want to sustain that, keep that as a minimum but also go beyond,” Kagame said.
Kagame urged these potential investors to invest in Rwanda because “Rwanda works.”
“I am always uncomfortable that we would want to be seen as having lessons for others. We first have lessons for ourselves. We are learning from others, experimenting, and we have not been afraid of trying new things,” the President responded when asked whether Rwanda reconciliation journey could serve as an example on the continent.
Speaking on Rwanda’s unconventional choices, he said that Rwanda has intentionally invested heavily in technology because it is a cross cutting solution to the country’s most pressing socio-economic problems.
On Rwanda’s path to post-genocide struggle, Kagame also noted that Rwanda has chosen not to be defined by its tragic past.
“People who are not part of our past are the majority but they need to learn it. It is part of who we are. It has lessons of what can go wrong. You can’t just switch off your past. You don’t have to be held back by it but you need to reflect on it to go forward,” Kagame concluded.