Kigali, 7 July 2018


This graduation is a moment of celebration and the promise of even more success to come, for you individually, as well as for your families and countries.

I want to congratulate the founders of the African Leadership University, as well as the faculty and staff of the ALU School of Business, on this first graduation at the Rwanda campus.

As the second home of ALU, Rwanda is proud to be associated with this unique, ambitious institution.

Excellence and answers to Africa’s greatest challenges are to be found right here, in Africa, and we just need the conviction and confidence to go for it.

This is what ALU represents.

By bringing together Africa’s brightest young leaders, and giving them the tools and opportunity to put their talents to use, you are playing a critical role in the transformation of our continent.

You can count on our support in this important work.

A few words to the new graduates.

The collaboration that you have shaped with your colleagues during your time here is important.

It can only strengthen the unity and cooperation we are building across the continent, and the more productive partnerships we seek with the rest of the world.

You are graduating as leaders of this century, with the ability and capacity to deal with today’s challenges.

Allow me to draw from some of our own experiences here in Rwanda.

Earlier this week, we celebrated the twenty-fourth anniversary of our country’s liberation. When we first set out, many of us in the liberation struggle did not have much management or leadership experience.

We were forced to learn quickly from situations as they evolved, often without warning, and we had to devise solutions accordingly just to stay alive.

Some of the calculated risks we took failed, but many paid off.

This was the case on the battlefront, and later on, as we worked to govern, and manage our relations with other countries. The lesson here was that there will always be challenges along the way. What matters is to find ways to confront them head on, and to continually make progress.

Many of you will be putting your MBA to use on a continent that is better off than it has ever been, and changing rapidly. At the same time, we are all keenly aware of global uncertainty. Nationalism and protectionism are on the increase, as citizens question their political systems, even in the most economically advanced nations.

However, as bleak as the news may seem at times, there is opportunity for African countries to get better organised, and provide leadership on vital global issues. On the other hand, the world generally keeps improving and is getting better.

The African Union is steadily implementing our institutional reform, as we continue to pursue greater integration, and economic prosperity.

To date, forty-nine countries have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. More than half of member states have also signed the agreement on the free movement of people.

Strive [Masyiwa], I wanted to let you know that it may not take you another ten years to dig from one country to another next time. The reason you didn’t spend much time on approvals in here is simple, it has to do with how we count here in Rwanda. We counted those ten years. We realised we had already lost too many years. And things are getting better across the continent. So I am sure if you went back to those countries it wouldn’t take that long once again.

These positive developments provide immense scope for graduates like you, with entrepreneurial talent and skills. You have such a major stake, and we hope that you will get involved at all levels, and in all sectors, to drive Africa’s transformation agenda.

In keeping with the aims of your education here at ALU, I trust that you will find common purpose in this worthy undertaking.

I want to conclude by expressing our appreciation, to the founders of the African Leadership University.

You are demonstrating that it is possible to provide relevant, world-class education and to nurture leaders who can thrive globally, while remaining grounded in African values, culture, and the real challenges we all face.

Once again, all the best to all the graduates, and we wish you every success as you continue on your respective leadership journeys.

I thank you for you kind attention.