LONDON - President Paul Kagame yesterday delivered a keynote speech at the ‘Private Equity in Africa Summit’ held at the London Stock Exchange.
A statement from the Office of the President said that while speaking to over 125 representatives of the largest Private Equity Funds in Africa, major Hedge Funds, Investment Banks and Sovereign Wealth Funds, President Kagame said that in recent years, Africa had achieved real progress in all areas, particularly in economic growth.
The President pointed out that those who still hold incorrect perceptions of Africa and Rwanda are missing great opportunities.
Noting Rwanda’s recent recognition as the world’s fastest reformer by the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, the Head of State said that Rwanda has worked to overcome the barriers to investment, reformed institutions and regulations, and has welcomed investment in key sectors such as telecommunications and banking.
Speaking on Rwanda’s development vision that is centred on building a knowledge-based economy and economic transformation towards high-value products, he highlighted Rwanda’s commitment to regional integration, as well as support of efforts to build a larger market of consumers by merging the East African Community with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
On the advantages of investing in Africa, President Kagame said that the continent was experiencing exponential growth particularly in infrastructure and energy, and held attractive prospects in ICT, agri-business, mining, real estate and construction.
He pointed out that these opportunities should be viewed solely as a contribution to social development, but in light of “…the growing market potential of the African population, which by the end of this year, will see Africa join India and China in surpassing one billion people.”
Speaking on the importance of private equity in shaping the future of the African continent, Kagame told the audience that as private investors looking for innovative investment opportunities and healthy returns, they represented ideal partners for Africa’s pursuit of “a continent that is prosperous, economically and politically interconnected, internationally respected continent, that is in charge of its own destiny”.
Kagame told the audience of Rwanda’s determination to ensure a favourable business climate, strong political leadership and institutional support, and called on investors to consider the continent’s unique opportunity for growth as a potential profitable undertaking.
The President is expected to hold meetings with UK government officials and business leaders on Tuesday before ending his working visit to London.
President Kagame is scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Wednesday to begin a four-day official visit to the North African country at the invitation of President Hosni Mubarak.
He is also expected to address the China-Africa Forum to be held in Sharm El Sheikh, in his capacity as Chair of the EAC Heads of State Summit.
In an interview yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Rosemary Museminali described Rwanda’s relationship with Egypt as traditional but stressed that the President’s visit would further cement the ties between two countries.
“The relations started a long time ago. These have been characterised by a business –to-business relationship between the two countries,” the minister said.