President Paul Kagame has said that emerging economies ought to draw lessons from past economic difficulties in order to build resilience against growth slowdowns in the future.
The President was fielding questions from local and international journalists at a post-World Economic Forum on Africa news conference in Kigali yesterday.
He said it was not uncommon for economic slowdowns to occur but it was a pity that African countries often fail to learn from previous challenges to build the required resilience.
“Slowdowns will continue to occur in the future. For Africa, there are things we are not doing that we should be doing that would make our economies more resilient even in the wake of such shocks,” Kagame said.
He said ignoring reality and just moving on as if slowdowns did not occur often left emerging economies vulnerable to future shocks.
The Head of State warned against the ‘touch and go’ approach in correcting Africa’s economic situation, saying that it doesn’t provide long-term solutions.
“They come to pass and we continue to behave as if nothing happened or as if there is nothing we can do to cushion ourselves from future shocks,” Kagame said.
Among the obvious actions that can help build resilience, the President said, was improving intra-Africa trade. This, he said, would serve a great deal with regard to reducing vulnerabilities of emerging economies.
“If you look at the intra-Africa trade level, it is very tiny, yet it holds huge potential in making our economies resilient. We do not do that. We wait until those who order for our commodities have decided to say they do not need them and we are left scrambling.”
He called on African countries to work together through regional blocs in such aspects as production to reduce heavy import bills.
“Most times we produce what we do not consume and consume what we do not produce. Why don’t we produce what we consume? It is not as if we cannot correct it,” he said.
Kagame’s comments come in the face of a global economic slowdown that economists say is likely to slow growth of African economies.
The slowdown is linked to falling commodity and petroleum prices on the international market.
Kagame emphasised the importance of regional cooperation in mobilising resources for key infrastructure projects to help drive national and regional economies.
Rwanda, the President said, had engaged countries in the region on possibilities of co-funding major regional infrastructure projects that would benefit the country.
On Rwanda hosting the World Economic Forum on Africa, Kagame said bringing the forum to the country was a step in the right direction, adding it was crucial for connecting Rwanda to the rest of the world and in improving its economy.
He said, for Rwanda to successfully host the forum, it was proof that there was decent capacity created in the country over the last few years.
The 26th World Economic Forum for Africa that ran from May 11-13 at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village, was held under the theme, “Connecting Africa’s Resources for Digital Transformation.”
The forum attracted about 1500 delegates from across the world.
Meanwhile, President Kagame said Rwanda was ready to host the upcoming African Union Summit in July, expected to attract some 3,000 delegates.