President Kagame has said that the tragedies Rwandans went through have taught them to look for solutions for their own problems first before seeking for assistance elsewhere. President Kagame was speaking on the last day of the 16th Milken Institute Global Conference held in Los Angeles, bringing together over one thousand participants. President Kagame was part of a panel that also included Bill Gates, Tony Blair, Chevron Vice President of Policy, Government and Public Affairs at Chevron Corporation Rhonda Zycocki and Chairman of Econet Wireless, Strive Masiliwa, discussing under the theme: “Investing in African Prosperity”
“When tragedy strikes, you find you are on your own. You have to own your problems and do your best to solve them before expecting any external support. External support is not sustainable on its own without your own efforts.”
President Kagame pointed that Rwanda has been able to achieve so much in a short time because every Rwandan has a role to play in transforming their nation and their lives.
“Citizens take part in the decisions that affect their lives and they own the ongoing progress in Rwanda. What is happening in Rwanda is proof that it can be done everywhere else.”
On his part, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair reminded the audience of the ability of a stable government and a profitable private sector to ensure long term prosperity and encouraged all present to take the time to get to know Africa:
“Rwanda has shown that quality of government is essential and can transform a country. I encourage you to go, see and invest in Africa. It will be rewarding for your spirit and for your pocket.”
Strive Masiliwa, who has invested close to $1 billion dollars in his own country pointed to the telecom industry in Zimbabwe where mobile phone penetration has increased from 14% in 2008 to over 100% and urged investors to change their perception of investment in Africa as a risky venture:
“It was time that you hear that Africa is open for business. Going to Africa is not exotic, it is normal. Africa is not one country but a continent with diverse countries and you must spend time understanding each local context. The decision you will make as investors and the challenges you will face are the same as everywhere else.”
At the conclusion of the conference, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa presented President Kagame with a welcome certificate on behalf of the city of Los Angeles. In his closing speech, Michael Milken thanked President Kagame for his presence and for sharing the inspiring story of Rwanda.
“We can all learn from the reconciliation and recovery of a country where 1 in 10 people were killed unfairly.”