Africa should be a player on the global scene, Kagame

Africa ought to be a player and stakeholder on the global scene, as opposed to frequently getting caught up in power games among other international actors as has often been the case, President Paul Kagame has said.

The President was speaking in Los Angeles, USA at the 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference during a panel discussion dubbed “Global Overview: Measuring the Winds of Change.”

The conference brings together over three thousand participants, 600 panelists and 140 sessions.

Participants include public and private sector leaders from across the world who exchange ideas on innovative solutions to global challenges.

The panel included Jane Harman, Director, President and CEO of the Wilson Center; Micheal Pillsbury  Director of Center on Chinese Strategy Hudson Institute and former UK Minister Lord Peter Mandelson.

Kagame said that Africa needs to get its act together to get to a position where it is a player on the global stage as opposed to being caught up in power games among international actors.

“Africa needs to get its act together and be a place that can raise its stakes higher than where it is. Do as much as possible to be one of the players on the global scene instead of being caught up in power games we see across the world,” he said.

He said that Rwanda and the rest of the continent consider Western Countries as partners or investors of choice for Africa.

“Africa, my own country, look to the West as partners of choice, or investors of choice in Africa. If the West was doing investments that are required in Africa the way they should be, then Africa will stop being caught in this trap or competition,” he said.

He allayed fears and concerns by a section of Western countries in regards to China’s involvement in Africa. 

He added that often Africa gets caught up between the competition between Western countries and China.

“The problem of anxiety by the west relating to China’s involvement in Africa has more to do with the West than with Africa. The competition between the US, the industrialized world with China finds Africa caught between China and the West,” Kagame said.

The African continent, he said, ought to be viewed as a party with its own needs and interests.

Increasingly, there have been concerns over Africa’s debt exposure with perceptions that the continent’s largest creditor is the Asian Nation.

However, statistics show that the continent borrows from multiple parties on different terms.

He said that growing concerns that China was burdening Africa with debt were unfounded.

“Africa has not had debt from China only. Debt forgiveness was there because there was debt. The question is what Africa has been doing with this debt… Saying we are worried Africa will be trapped in debt with China, sounds like concern for Africa by outsiders rather than Africa being concerned for its own well-being,” Kagame said.

He also addressed assumptions that corruption is only limited to the two parties –Africa and China- saying that it was not true.

The Head of State said that corruption was intolerable and should be fought and Africa was making efforts in that aspect.

“The assumption here is that corruption is confined to China and Africa, and that the west does not get involved in corruption, which is not true. Nobody should give an excuse for corruption, it should be fought wherever it comes from and that is what we have been trying to do in our countries and in other African countries,” he said.

The Milken Institute was founded in 1990s by Michael Milken and Lowell Milken with the aim of capitalizing on the ability of capital markets to solve social and economic challenges through innovative economic and policy solutions and focus on job creation, access to capital and health.