At least 1,000 delegates, including heads of government, representatives of multilateral organisations and members of the private sector, today convene in Kigali for the Global African Investment Summit.
The summit, which will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre, is taking place for the first time in Africa with previous editions held in London.
The two-day meet is convened and organised by the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa in partnership with the Government of Rwanda.
Organisers say the summit is tailored to serve the continent’s growing appeal among forward thinking investors who view the continent as an investment destination as opposed to a sole aid benefactor.
Speaking last week, Rwanda Development Board chief executive Francis Gatare said, at the summit, opportunities and partnerships will be showcased with an aim of maintaining a steady stream of investments in Rwanda and Africa in general.
“We will be hosting over 1,000 business leaders at the summit. Opportunities will be laid out to the delegations showcasing projects that are available for investment and partnerships. We are optimistic that the trend we are seeing with investments into the country will continue to act as testament for others to come on,” he said.
The forum comes at a time several African countries are working to create a conducive investment environment for the private sector.
Amanda Basi, the summit’s programme director, told The New Times that the forum will showcase policy improvements and adjustments as well as gather feedback from the private sector on what more governments can do to improve the business environment.
“We are not only going to have governments and politicians talking about what they are doing, it is also going to involve conversations with members of the private sector who will highlight what is working well for them and what is not,” she said.
The uniqueness of this year’s summit is the focus on investments by African investors as well as promoting intra-regional trade, which is quite low compared to other regions across the world.
Currently, the levels of intra-Africa trade remain at under 15 per cent compared to regions such as Asia where it is over 40 per cent.
“One of the things that this forum will be looking at is the creation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area aspiration. The key thinking is why we are not having a common market and why we are not trading enough with each other. Trade is very low and increasing it is the next step for growth for the entire continent,” Basi said.
Paul Sinclair, a member of the organising committee, said Rwanda was one of the nations changing opinions and perceptions by investing in infrastructure.
“Rwanda is actively changing opinions with its actions to improve its industrial, agricultural and social infrastructure. Heavy investment in Rwanda’s ICT has been crucial to helping the nation spearhead their long term growth strategies, allowing it to become a place of interest for investors,” Sinclair said.
Sinclair said investment opportunities in Africa are particularly strong due to its potential consumer base, along with the high adoption rate of various technological devices, such as smart-phones and the Internet.
Organisers say they will build on a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) that was launched in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in June last year.
TFTA aims to economically integrate Africa’s three major regional economic communities – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the East African Community (EAC).
Together, the three economic blocs will create the largest trading bloc in Africa, comprising 26 countries, about 620 million consumers and a combined GDP of almost $1.2 trillion.
The forum is an internationally recognised business platform that creates a unique meeting place for global investors and public and private sectors.
The last Summit took place in London, UK, in December last year, and attracted over 1,500 investors who manage over $425 billion in funds earmarked for Africa and other emerging markets.