Istanbul, 28 November 2012

President Kagame today delivered a keynote speech at the dinner held on the first evening of the Global Infrastructure Initiative taking place in Istanbul, Turkey. During an interactive discussion that followed the speech, moderated by Jimmy Hexter, a partner at McKinsey and Company, President Kagame answered questions from the audience, including the role of infrastructure in Rwanda’s development, the politics of implementing infrastructure policies and the challenges that have to be overcome to achieve the remaining infrastructure gap.

Following an afternoon of discussions during which participants, including Madeleine Albright, offered a global perspective on current infrastructure policies, President Kagame took the stage at a dinner held under the theme: “Integrating Infrastructure into Socio-Economic Transformation”:

“What we have done is no miracle. It can be done anywhere in Africa, maybe even better. It is about follow through, knowing what you want to do and actually doing it. The difference lies in building institutions, people and leaders who will make these institutions work. It is about implementing the policies identified by people.We chose to push hard to get results and use these results to show more can be done for everyone’s benefits because no one will come from far away to do it for us.”

Other questions focused on Rwanda’s ability to transform its vision into action and the challenges encountered along the way. Also, participants asked about Rwanda’s position as a landlocked country and the need to build capacity that can address the infrastructure gap:

Concerning the challenge of Rwanda being landlocked, President Kagame said that although this cannot be changed, Rwandans can overcome it. president Kagame also said that with 17% of Rwanda’s budget going to education, strides will be made towards building sustainable institutions that will ensure Rwanda meets the infrastructure gap.

“To address the challenge of capacity, Rwanda learns best practices from around the world and relies on external expertise. However, one of the challenge remaining is posed by those who want to offer assistance in their own way and determine their own priorities. In Rwanda, we work to own our development process.”

The conference was convened by McKinsey and Company and co-hosted by the Government of the Republic of Turkey, TIME Magazine and Albright Stone bridge Group, with the aim of building on the expertise of the hundreds of leaders present to Rethink Infrastructure and provide recommendations on what will be required to achieve long term infrastructure change.