Value of our people exceeds all continent's natural resources – Kagame
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President Paul Kagame has said that young people can be a driving force for the African continent if provided with an environment to unleash their potential.
Kagame was yesterday speaking at the second Africa Business Forum in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt where he is on a two-day visit.
The forum attracted Heads of State and Government, as well as dozens of top industry captains and delegates from across Africa aiming at increasing intra-African investments and cross-border collaboration.
Kagame said that, beyond the natural resources that the continent is known for, the continent’s real value is in human capital.
“Our continent is famous for its natural resources. But the value of our human capital, our people, exceeds all the oil and minerals in the continent,”
“It isn’t about counting the number of human beings but rather looking at the potential they have and creating an environment for them to unleash their potential,” Kagame said.
Highlighting Rwanda’s approach, the Head of State said that the country had developed a model that involved knowledge, skills and institutions.
“In Rwanda we created a triangular model; knowledge, skills and institutions where you see technology at work…These institutions result into ideas that can turn into businesses or products. We have done it in a way that it not only serves Rwanda but also international institutions based in Rwanda,” he explained.
Other approaches by Rwanda to unlock young people’s potential have involved tertiary education including Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), which graduate about 90,000 young people annually.
The government has also supported young talent by working alongside partners to establish and run innovation hubs to develop young people’s ideas into businesses.
Kagame called on countries and delegates present to be deliberate in creating opportunities for their youth.
“Rwanda is creating an ecosystem that will benefit African entrepreneurs. We must be deliberate in our scale to create opportunities for African youth,” the President said.
To the youth and partners, the Head of State urged them to work hard and not to be afraid to try.
“Young people and everyone involved, we need to up our game. We owe it to ourselves, communities and continent to work hard and keep trying. Let’s not fail to try. Trust needs to be earned and nurtured,” he advised.
The President’s remarks come at a time when there are widespread concerns of African youth immigrants to Europe in search of opportunities often as a result of failure of enabling environments in their own states.
Currently, the continent is mulling how to handle a recent revelation that youthful immigrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya as they seek to move to Europe.
Kagame was on a panel session that also included President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt, Nigerian business magnet Tony Elumelu, as well as two Youth Entrepreneur ambassadors, Jean Bosco Nzeyimana and Mohamed Azab.
The business and investment forum is held under the theme, ‘Driving Investment for Inclusive Growth’.
Kagame’s visit to Egypt and participation in the forum that seeks to promote business and investment across the continent comes weeks before he assumes the chairmanship of the African Union.