Kigali, 11 July 2015
President Kagame today delivered a Keynote Speech at the Kenya-Rwanda Business Forum that brought together business leaders from both countries.
President Kagame stated that business people in the region should collaborate more because business collaboration is a vital part of regional integration:
“Governments should derive pride in seeing people working together. Today the East African Community is relevant to the global community than ever before.”
President Kagame also underscored the importance of young people to the continuity of regional integration and prosperity:
“In the drive to integrate our region and create wealth, businesses can make another kind of smart investment, that is, supporting African initiatives working to instill in young people, a more pan-African perspective, an attitude of closer collaboration within the continent, and pride in African heritage.”
President Kagame advised regional business people to be more ambitious and be people who dare to venture:
“Building East African brands won’t scare investors, it will attract them instead. This will yield freedom and dignity all wrapped in this success we are seeking.Every global company started off as a local one; without exception. The business people in this room have a natural advantage and you have the right risk perceptions. There is no excuse.This forum should point out issues for governments to analyse and find a way forward. I want us to leave this room knowing everything we aspire to is possible if we are convinced and play our part.”
However, President Kagame cautioned against business people not to expect protection from competition, because this would make the systems weaker in the long run. President Kagame also challenged business people to learn to make quick and smart decisions and take action with urgency:
“Dreams will never come true unless you try hard. How can we fail to do things that we know are important and for which we have means? The answer does not lie in giving up.We do not have the option of giving up. We keep trying. We keep pushing. We keep asking questions.We know what we need to do and what we are capable of doing. What is it that diverts us and slows our progress?”
Participating in a subsequent panel, president Kagame pointed out that in order to prosper regional countries shouldn’t be confined within their borders, but should think beyond their nations, the region and think about the entire continent and the role the continent plays on the global stage.
“How can we not allow intra-African trade when we know the potential for everyone; businesses, the people and government? We need to create a critical mass of people who believe in themselves. We need believers and we need people who act. Leadership cannot function in isolation. You have to be able to bring others along with you.”
This follows President Kagame’s meeting with members of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) in February this year, when he was in Nairobi to attend the 16th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community Heads of State.