The atmosphere (sounds better than climate) around Kigali and other areas is currently more of a celebratory one far from what others may want you to believe. The campaigns for presidency have clearly added colour to the streets. However it is also good to mention that life has not stopped because of the same.
For example the people doing road works are still at it and Rwanda’s commitment to continue being a great destination for MICE tourism is still steady. This kind of tourism that refers to Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/events is another segment that Rwanda wants to lock down. Ever since the launch of the Kigali Convention Centre Radisson Blu and Kigali Marriott Hotel which eased the pressure on Kigali Serena Hotel as far as hosting these events is concerned, there has been a major event almost every month.
The recently held Youth Connekt Africa Summit was a great success that proved how far Rwanda has come regarding the hosting of major events like these. Not only did it attract more than 7000 applications with slightly over 2800 delegates making the final list from 90 countries the conference also had some of the most amazing speakers to grace the same space.
The young people were treated to inspiring speeches from people like Esther Mbabazi, Rwanda’s first pilot who gave a touching speech on the journey women have made over the years to be accepted as worthy scientists. Other successful people were on hand to offer some of the lessons they have picked along the way to the top.
I loved that there was a cross section of these wealthy people like Ali Mufuruki from Tanzania, Patrice Motsepe from South Africa, Tony Elumelu from Nigeria and of course Jack ma who was the one everyone wanted to hear from most. I do hope that this was proof to the young people that wealth can be made almost anywhere in this world as long as one is ready to put in the hard work.
I also loved the message by President Paul Kagame that young people should ensure that they fix that which old people may have failed to fix in their time. He reminded the youth of their responsibilities in improving their lives and not settling for less. He also scoffed at those African countries that talk about integration but then go ahead to institute burdensome visa application processes.
When it was his time to speak to the young people, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was firing from the hip with short but powerful nuggets of wisdom regarding life and business in general. Sitting there listening to this man I could tell that having been a teacher, Ma knew exactly what to say to young people and how to say it. Being an e-commerce mogul, he knows that young people in this digital era have short attention spans so going on and on with a long speech full of big and over used words was not going to cut it.
He urged the youth to make mistakes but learn from them. He urged them to work with people who are smarter than them. He told them not to wait for their governments to fix everything before they can get to work because then it will be too late. In this regard, he pointed out that success comes from solving problems and that his huge Alibaba Group of companies grew out of the fact that China lacked a proper retail infrastructure.
I really hope that particular bit sunk in because many young entrepreneurs forget that successful businesses are basically those that solve a problem for many people. East Africa is known for pioneering the mobile money solution thanks to Safaricom’s Mpesa. This service thrived and grew because it was solving a need that banks were not covering. Where banks are more established like South Africa it failed to pick up.
The last key message I picked from Jack Ma was one that he gave both governments and young people. According to him, the internet is the infrastructure of the economy and education. I don’t think I picked a more apt message from the whole conference than that. Governments have a duty to invest in making the internet more accessible and cheaper if young people in Africa are to prosper.
On their part the young people (and old people as well) ought to recognise that the internet is the best learning tool ever created but also one of the best enablers of commerce. Use it in the best way possible.Follow https://twitter.com/ssojo81