Davos, 24 January 2013
This morning at the World Economic Forum, President Kagame participated in the launch of the One Million Community Health Workers Initiative alongside Novartis CEO, Joseph Jimenez and Earth Institute Director, Jeffrey Sachs. This new campaign aims to greatly expand by training, equipping and deploying one million health care workers by the end of 2015 – reaching millions of undeserved people.
“We are more than happy to be part of the One Million Community Health Workers initiative. In Rwanda, we have trained close to 50,000 health workers. We have seen the ability of community health workers to improve public health and believe that this initiative can serve the cause of public health throughout Africa. This campaign will support many ongoing public-private partnerships, United Nations initiatives, and African Union efforts to meet the health Millennium Development Goals.” President Kagame explained.
Following the launch, President Kagame was a panelist on a session titled “The Africa Context” discussing the challenges and transformation shaping leadership in Africa today, moderated by Nkosana Moyo. President Kagame addressed the audience alongside the CE0 BioTherm Energy, Jasandra Nyker, CEO of Ecobank Transnational, Thierry Tanoh, Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Finance Corporation, Jin-Yong Cai and Chairman of Eskom Holdings, Zola Tsosi. Topics discussed ranged from the need for strategic infrastructure, economic diversification and regional integration.
On the issue of infrastructure, President Kagame emphasised the need to move beyond talk about infrastructure and begin building.
“It is not that we do not know what to do. Everyone is good at talking about infrastructure; it is the practice that has proven difficult. People know what they are supposed to do.” President Kagame told the audience.
When asked about the Government of Rwanda getting involved in projects such as building Serena Hotel which many referred to as unconventional, President Kagame responded, “The same people who were stopping me are now sleeping in the hotel.”
Panelists such as Ecobank CEO, Thierry Tanoh and Executive Vice President and CEO IFC, Jin Yong Cai echoed the argument made in the previous day’s session on the need to change the perception of investment in Africa as risky.
“It is up to us as Africans to sell Africa for what it is. It is not a risky continent. We need to show that there is reward for investment and that there is an environment friendly to do businesses.” Thierry Tanoh explained.
The panelists also discussed the need for Africans to set the rules for external investment in Africa.
“As recipients of investors, we should be setting how investors come in our countries and here we want them to invest.” Chairman of Eskom Holdings, Zola Tsosi added.
Addressing the issue of external factors influencing leadership in Africa, President Kagame pointed out the omission of external influence as an impediment to good leadership.
“People talk about African leadership but not about external factors. Leaders don’t have sufficient space to exercise leadership. We find that external factors are able to derail good ideas and good solutions and we find ourselves running in circles. It happens in every country, every day, at different levels.”
President Kagame also joined the last plenary panel of the day alongside panelists who included, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, Queen Rania of Jordan, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and Bill Gates. Titled “The Global Development Outlook,” the session discussed the success as well as the future of the Millennium Development Goals.
“We need to be seeing this in a wider context and mobilize for public private partnerships in bigger areas to ensure that what we have achieved is sustainable.” President Kagame said.
Answering a question from the audience regarding where the issue of human rights fits in the future of MDGs, President Kagame pointed out the need to be honest about the political nature of many organizations claiming to defend human rights .
“The definition is often politicized depending on who the person defined is and not what has happened. Human rights are rights lived by a person. There is no single country, person or institution that has monopoly of defining what human rights means. We need to have a debate about who has the monopoly of defining human right.”
President Kagame ended the day with a dinner alongside African leaders like Ali Bongo of Gabon, Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Raila Odinga of Kenya in an interactive discussion entitled “Africa’s Promise: How can Africa’s leaders deliver on the continent promise” moderated by African Development Bank President, Donald Kaberuka.