President Paul Kagame has called for closer collaboration between the private sector and African governments to increase economic opportunity and entrepreneurship on the continent.
Kagame, who is the current chairperson of the AU Summit, was speaking at the Africa Business and Investment Forum held yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, as well as the AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki.
The forum brought together over 240 African and U.S. public and private sector leaders with an aim to ensure that there is an understanding between private sector and political leaders.
Kagame said that much can be achieved with the cooperation of the two parties to raise citizen wellbeing.
“More collaboration is also needed between government and business. At the end of the day, we share the same goal of raising the well-being and prosperity of our citizens,” he said.
Towards the desired change, Kagame added that the African Union is unrolling initiatives to increase commercial activity and entrepreneurship.
“We need active support from the private sector. In fact, without your voice something essential is missing. Several of the African Union’s most ambitious initiatives, are designed to unshackle commercial activity and entrepreneurship. It is about providing a better quality of life to our citizens,” he said.
Among the initiatives that will improve conditions for business in the continent include the Continental Free Trade Area free movement of people as well as the Single African Air Transport Market, which was launched on Monday.
“These are very important for the competitiveness of African firms and their ability to expand to new markets and hire more employees, especially young people. And there are many other urgent frameworks for economic integration waiting to be finalised and applied,” he said.
Among the benefits of working with the private sector, Kagame said, is improved efficiency and maximum output, aspects where the public sector often fails.
Citing the example of the health sector, he said that resources can be saved and productivity increased through public-private cooperation.
“Let me give an example of health. Inadequate medical care costs companies and the public sector, a lot of money and lost productivity, through illness and disability. But the private sector is also part of the solution. A report from the International Finance Corporation a few years ago, found that the majority of health services consumed in Africa, are already supplied privately,” he said.
“In Rwanda, for example, we have entered into a public-private arrangement with a Spanish-Angolan firm to manage our largest hospital. What is being done there is already showing good success. We are also partnering with an American company, Zipline, to pioneer the use of drone aircraft to deliver blood and other medical supplies to rural areas,” he noted.
Dubbed “Transform: Africa Business and Investment Forum”, the gathering is organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in collaboration with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).
President Kagame, alongside AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki, concluded the day by holding a consultative meeting on African Union Institutional Reform with former Heads of State and Government, former OAU and AU heads as well as AU commissioners to share updates on the reforms and exchange views. In his brief opening remarks to the meeting, the President thanked former heads of state and heads of institutions for their continued service to the continent.
“ This is an important meeting and I am glad for this opportunity to talk to former heads of state and heads of institutions and organizations that are important to our continent. I would also like to take this opportunity to say that even when people have retired, when duty calls for service of our continent, you have always availed yourselves and I want to thank you for that.”
Kagame later held bilateral meetings with South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.