President Paul Kagame has called for deeper intra-Africa trade and closer cooperation in the face of global uncertainty due to growing nationalistic trends witnessed in some global economic giants.
Kagame was speaking at a Wall Street Journal forum on investing in Africa, where he gave insights on the continent’s economic past and future prospects moderated by the publication’s editor, Gerald Baker, held in London, United Kingdom.
The President said that the wave of nationalism in some Western countries that have traditionally worked closely with Africa could be the silver lining for Africa to be more independent and take charge of its own sustainable growth.
Globally, there are concerns on what the nationalistic interest by some countries including the United States and Britain could mean for international cooperation and economic development of their traditional partners.
The new US president, Donald Trump following his election said his government would put his country’s interest first while Britain, another economic superpower last year voted to pull out of the European Union.
Such developments have evoked uncertainty on what this could spell for developing parts of the world like Africa, whose growth in recent years largely supported by western countries.
On the issue, Kagame said that globalization and economic growth cannot survive simply on goodwill of some parties rather by all parties do what is best for their interests.
Terming the continued over-reliance on western powers as ‘babysitting,’ the President said that this cannot serve as a sustainable approach if the continent is to grow and develop.
He instead insisted that the nationalistic trends ought to serve as a wakeup call for the continent to increase trade among themselves and work together to develop.
“As the world is going through the uncertainties, we need to look at what more we can do among ourselves for sustainable growth.
“This will force our people to identify the challenges with the systems we have been working with,” he said.
On his expectations for Africa’s relations with the new American administration, Kagame said that Africa has in the past had positive relations with previous regimes despite there not being a clear Africa-America relations policy.
“I would welcome policy working with Africa. I want to see Africa do business with the US or other part of this world,” he said.
Kagame also highlighted the role of Rwanda’s home-grown investment firm, Crystal Ventures Ltd, saying that they moved to invest in areas where the rest of the private sector previously shied away from.
Giving an example of the firm’s role in the telecommunication industry, he said that the firm got into the sector way before other private firms would venture in it.
Over the years, as the sector caught the interest of foreign investors, he said that the firm pulled out by selling their stake to the public on the stock market.
He said that the firm had also invested in areas such as agro-processing triggering healthy competition among players and thus benefits farmers and the population at large.
On how Rwanda was working towards becoming a technology hub, Kagame said that the country had adopted a multi-faceted approach that includes public private cooperation for investments, capacity building by working with global institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences as well as having institutions provide financing for emerging entrepreneurs.
“My satisfaction lies in the truth that we have not been involved in harming our people. We are developing our country,” Kagame said.
He noted that all actions were evaluated on the basis of their benefit to the people and aimed to promote inclusive growth.