President Paul Kagame on Tuesday urged world leaders to support global companies venturing into Africa as their sense of innovation in responding to Africa’s needs can play an important role in driving development on the continent.
The Head of State delivered the message in Berlin, Germany, while attending a G20 Investment Summit that brought together German businesses and the Compact with Africa (CwA) member countries.
He spoke at the summit in his role as both the Chairperson of the African Union and President of Rwanda.
Across-section of African leaders at the G20 Investment Summit in Berlin yesterday. Village Urugwiro
The President pointed to the Volkswagen “Moving Rwanda” venture, through which the German carmaker has established a car assembling plant in Rwanda, as an example of an innovative project.
“The best way to speed up business climate reform is to attract more global firms to Africa. This produces a demonstration effect, which in turn generates even more productive investment. In other words, a virtuous cycle,” he said.
Kagame commended Volkswagen for opening multiple operations in East and Southern Africa, a regional approach he said is key to achieving economies of scale in Africa.
Besides Rwanda, the German automobile maker has plants in countries like South Africa and Kenya.
“Continental integration is making this an increasingly viable strategy,” he said.
Kagame added: “Africa can be a global innovation laboratory. East Africa is a young market for new car sales. But we have a great need for mobility solutions, which raise the productivity of the wider regional economy. Volkswagen is not only assembling vehicles in Rwanda, it is pioneering next-generation business models for shared, environmentally-friendly transport”.
He explained that Volkswagen’s approach has attracted other major players that might not otherwise be in Rwanda, such as Siemens.
He commended Volkswagen Rwanda for employing dozens of Rwandans and East Africans, with the senior management team including several Rwandan graduates of German universities and a youthful Rwandan start-up company developing the ride-sharing software for the project.
“There is a tremendous amount that we can accomplish together if we focus on funding and de-risking creative investments led by the private sector,” Kagame said, highlighting the need to support ventures by global brands coming to Africa.
The event, which was held under the patronage of Dr Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, brought together German businesses and CwA countries to explore investment opportunities under the framework of the G20 Partnership with Africa.
During the event, German investors presented their flagship projects currently underway in the CwA countries.
As an initiative of the G20, CwA was set up under the German G20 Presidency to promote investment in Africa.
Its primary objective is to increase attractiveness for private investment through substantial improvements of the macro, business, and financing frameworks in countries that have signed up to the programme.
CwA brings together reform-minded African countries, international organisations, and bilateral partners from G20 and beyond to coordinate country-specific reform agendas, support respective policy measures and advertise investment opportunities to private investors.
The initiative is demand-driven and open to all African countries with 11 countries having joined to date, including Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Tunisia.
The CwA initiative is based on the premise that significant progress can be achieved through a coordinated and country-specific analysis of the obstacles and market failures impeding private investment in African economies.
It brings together the analytical perspectives of governments, would-be investors, and international organisations with extensive operational experience in Africa such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank Group.
On the sidelines of the meeting, President Kagame also held bilateral talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.