President Paul Kagame has said that it is time to prioritise commercial and investment relations between Africa and higher-income countries to bring about sustainable development.
President Kagame was speaking, yesterday, at the G20-Africa Partnership meeting in Berlin, Germany, convened under the theme, “Investing in a Common Future.”
The G20, which is comprised of 19 top economies and the European Union bloc, had invited select African countries to deliberate on ways to spur private investment in infrastructure and employment.
Making a case on the need to prioritise commercial ties between Africa and developed nations, Kagame said the two parties were on the limit of what government-to-government action can achieve.
“We are on the same page that traditional aid, while useful, is never going to be enough to bring about sustainable development. We are at the limit of what government-to-government action alone can achieve,” the President said.
“The time is right to put commercial and investment relations at the centre of our joint agenda. A broader relationship is therefore necessary between Africa and higher-income countries, together with the international financial institutions that serve us all.”
Easing business prospects
Among the ways that African governments can improve the operating conditions for the private sector and their role in development, the President said, is by making it easy to do business.
Kagame said bureaucratic red tape only serves the interests of a few and contributes to poverty.
“Wherever it is found, even outside of government, bureaucratic red tape serves special interests, not the public interest. It contributes to poverty and slows progress generally. Therefore, eliminating such barriers is a very important first step,” the Head of State said.
Citing Rwanda’s experience in easing business operating environment, Kagame said, as Rwanda had adopted the approach the country rose in the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings and has seen increased attention from investors.
Another way to improve the operating conditions for the private sector is by building infrastructure which reduces the cost of enterprise.
“Administrative reform on its own is not enough, and so the second job for the governments is to reduce the cost of enterprise by building critical infrastructure through public-private partnership,”
“Indeed, some of the most attractive and impactful investment opportunities are in the roads, bridges, ports, railways, power plants, water and sanitation infrastructure, and communications networks that Africa needs so urgently to drive its growth,” Kagame said.
The President also noted that it was time to dispel the notion that Africa was riskier than other markets.
“Companies are doing well in Africa, and not only in extractive industries. Opportunities in retail, construction, agribusiness, and financial services are very strong. Africa’s population will continue to expand, including the middle class, and our cities are some of the fastest-growing urban areas in the world,” he said, making a case of the continent’s doing business environment.
He admitted that the continent was not without challenges but added that the challenges can be tackled if the private sector is brought on board to bring its scale and know-how.
Kagame challenged participants at the forum to go beyond discussions and build partnerships that would guarantee a win-win scenario for both parties.
“We have been here before. Let’s challenge ourselves to do things differently and more quickly this time. Endless rounds of discussion won’t solve our problems, or yours. The sooner we arrive at clarity about the way forward, the better. Count on us to continue doing our part, in partnership with others,” he said.
The meeting gathered delegates from across Africa, the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies and the private sector.
Other African countries whose Heads of State took part in the G20 Africa Partnership include; Tunisia, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Niger.
Speaking last week before departing for Berlin, Finance and Economic Planning minister Claver Gatete said the forum was a chance to look into ways for countries such as Rwanda to increase private sector’s role in national development.
That way, he said, the countries would be less dependent on aid, have sustainable growth and develop resilient economies.