Dar es Salaam, 26 March 2015

  •          Your Excellency, Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, our gracious host
  •          Your Excellency, Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi
  •          Distinguished Leaders representing Heads of State
  •          Heads of international and regional organisations
  •          Distinguished Business Leaders
  •          Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me start by saying Mr. President that it is a great pleasure for me to be here in Dar es Salaam, at this important forum. Apologies that I wasn’t able to make it yesterday I had wished to be with you. Thank you also President, for the invitation, to say a few words, as we open our deliberations.

First of all, this is about mutually beneficial and profitable investments, for all stakeholders involved, public or private.

I thank the various partners, notably the World Economic Forum, African Union, NEPAD, and DBSA, who have contributed the detailed economic analyses, without which this meeting would not have fully served the purpose.

The projects that make up the Central Corridor are ambitious, but they are also economically sound as the President has just mentioned.

The favourable economic and demographic growth trends, that are making Eastern Africa increasingly visible and relevant to the global economy, have been well documented.

Our region is getting more and more connected internally, and also with our neighbours in Africa, and with the global economy as a whole. Our population is growing, our cities are expanding, and our young people are ready to work and to learn.

In that context, the price tag of the Central Corridor project may actually come to seem cheap, when assessed against the new growth and opportunity that they will unlock, in times ahead.

I say that East Africa is a good bet, particularly for those investors, such as yourselves, who have come to appreciate the good prospects, before everyone else does.

Of course, no investment is risk-free. And all the positive trends, and goodwill, in the world, do not guarantee success – there are a number of other things that have to come into play.

We need to make sure that the views and interests of all stakeholders have not only been heard, but also integrated and harmonised but each stakeholder participating practically as they should and making the right contributions as expected. That is the only way for us to all work together, with a shared sense of focus and urgency.

Fortunately, almost everyone who is needed, to bring this vision to fruition, is here in this room today led by The President of the United Republic of Tanzania who has convened us here and is our host. The resources that have been expended, to bring us together, should not go to waste.

I say this, because this is not the first time people gather and meet, for this type of discussion. We know what to do, we know who can do it and really with this we can’t keep waiting for ourselves.

But the cost of delay is too high, and it is our people who ultimately pay that price, in the form of lost opportunities.

It is up to us to set the agenda, communicate it, and build the mutually-beneficial public-private partnerships that are required, to get things done.

It is not an accident that there are several Heads of State that were here yesterday and those of today who have committed to work together on this. For initiatives of this scale and importance, there is no substitute for engaged leadership.

The frequent consultations at the highest level help drive focus and results, and we should maintain and even strengthen this way of coordination. And political will, needs to be translated into tangible results.

Momentum has a value of its own. The important thing is to get started, keep moving, and build from there. We should not get lost in too much process, nor let the perfect, be the enemy of the possible. Political will is key because there is so much low-hanging fruit to pluck.

Each of our infrastructure corridors is essential. After all, there is only one East Africa. We have no choice, but to engage with global markets together, with a shared vision, and a common voice.

The full value of these initiatives will be unlocked by realising these corridors and connecting together in the same way that our peoples themselves, have always been connected.

African countries cannot become prosperous, if they continue to face the world as small, fragmented markets.

Sustainable development of infrastructure requires vibrant partnerships between the public and private sectors.

These partnerships work well when they are open, mutually beneficial and inclusive. And when necessary, they should challenge and overcome the limitations of traditional roles in our development process, in order to achieve the desired outcomes.

Above all, we must recognise that all the investments we make primarily benefit the people of this region. They must have not only a clear stake, but a sense of ownership in their future.

The prosperity of Eastern Africa demands it. Together, we can achieve it.

I want to say once again President Kikwete, thank you for convening this forum and inviting us to your great country and the beautiful city of Dar es Salaam and we look forward to working with you and others to bring all these matters to fruition. I am pleased to declare this forum open, and look forward to moving forward.

Thank you very much.