Spotlight on Rwanda as WEF opens in Kigali


Workers fix fibre optic cables in Kimihurura. (File)

All eyes on Rwanda. From within the continent to Europe, Asia and further in the Americas, the global focus is on Kigali as the World Economic Forum for Africa opens, today, convening about 1,500 delegates for deliberations on a range of the continent’s economic aspects, including analysing opportunities and risks with a bias for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The three-day forum will see about more than 10 heads of state and government take part as well as business leaders representing and corporations from across the world.

The forum will run under the theme, “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation.”

The first day of the forum will address a number of Africa’s concerns such as scaling up youth entrepreneurship capacities, expanding trade and cooperation to increase opportunities for the youth and increasing competitiveness of Africa’s products and services.

Panelists will also deliberate on how corporate community can help address risks to Africa’s development as well as ways to modify and transform Africa’s production and manufacturing to increase productivity.

Among the key panel sessions for the day include a high-level discourse on partnerships in Africa, where President Paul Kagame, US philanthropists Howard Buffett and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will feature.

Top African names in business, including Alika Dangote, the president of Dangote industrie; Ashish Thakkar, co-founder of Atlas Mara; and philanthropist and investor Tony Elumelu, are expected to feature in panel sessions.

Economists and academics on the continent, including Graca Machel, Donald Kaberuka, Adesina Akinwumi, the president of African Development Bank, and Fred Swaniker, the founder of the African Leadership Group, will also speak on various panelis.

The civil society is represented by top global figures, including Winnie Byanyima, the director of Oxfam International, and Carlos Lopes, the head UN Economic Commission for Africa, among others.

Besides the panelist session and moderated talks, the latest technologies such as virtual reality experience will be showcased at exhibitions.

Local artistes and producers also have a chance to exhibit and sell their products at the Car Free Zone to participants.

Without delving into details, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete, said in the course of the forum, several major deals will be announced and initiatives launched.

Among them is an ICT fund in Rwanda.

The forum will also provide a networking platform for participating governments and businesses as well as individuals which could see new opportunities pursued.

Francis Gatare, the chief executive of Rwanda Development Board, told The New Times that, this being a premier business gathering, it convenes top business leaders.

“From our perspective, many of the global business leaders may be coming to Rwanda for the first time. The forum is the reason for them being here. This is an opportunity to let them know more about Rwanda,” Gatare said.

He said it was important to build networks with them as individuals, corporate and citizens of their respective countries to make the most of their networks and relationships.