LIBREVILLE – President Paul Kagame arrived in Libreville, Gabon, yesterday where he joined business and political leaders at The New York Forum Africa 2014, his office said last evening.
The leaders are engaging in “intense, collaborative sessions to draw up a roadmap for individual businesses as well as national policy makers as a guide and spur to action.”
This year, the forum focuses on transformation: unlocking the competitiveness of the African economy through building value chains around the transformation of the continent’s natural resources, including its human capital.
Yesterday, President Kagame addressed participants alongside his Gabonese and Central African Republic counterparts, Ali Bongo Ondimba and Catherine Samba-Panza, respectively, in an interactive Citizens' Forum which included 500 Gabonese youth.
“Where there is a will there is a way, as Rwanda we started with the political will to make sure that we deepen and broaden integration which is the way to go for our continent because it brings countries together, it brings scale in terms of markets or decisions to be made on a wider scale that have implications on development,” a statement from the President’s office quotes him as saying.
He added: “We had to start from somewhere, we can’t be talking about integration and we are not allowing people to move freely across borders and allowing them to do business freely with each other.”
Other speakers at the forum included the French Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development of France, Laurent Fabius, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister for Africa (UK), Mark Simmonds, and German Chancellor’s G8 Personal Representative for Africa, Günter Nooke.
President Kagame also engaged with other leaders on current economic opportunities in Africa, Africa’s place on the world stage as well as on ICT and regional integration, moderated by Richard Attias, a prominent Moroccan businessman and former organiser of the World Economic Forum and co-founder of Clinton Global initiative.
The New York Forum Africa is organised around a number of major debates that examine the key economic and business issues for Africa today, according to organisers.
Meeting with French foreign affairs minister
Meanwhile, President Kagame met with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius on the sidelines of the Forum, according to the statement.
Speaking about the meeting, the Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs Louis Mushikiwabo said: "President Kagame held a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on the margin of the New York Africa Forum. They discussed the state of bilateral relations and agreed to step up exchanges and hold more regular consultation at the level of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in order to improve dialogue.”
The two countries have experienced rocky relations in recent years.
The inaugural New York Forum Africa in 2012 was about recognising Africa’s economic achievements and understanding the opportunities for business and investors. The New York Forum Africa 2013 focused on the hard work needed to make the opportunities a reality, with an emphasis on the six imperatives for African economies to grow (independence, investment, incubation, innovation, infrastructure and inspiration), where participants worked together to create an action plan, and to sign new partnerships between the public and private sector.
Founded in 2010 by Richard Attias, the New York Forum is a New York-based organisation that brings together top political and business leaders from around the world.