Kigali, 31 October 2018
Once again, let me start by welcoming Jack Ma, my friend, and the leadership of Alibaba Group, back to Rwanda for this exciting event.
I want to thank you Jack, for following through and delivering on the good ideas discussed at last year’s YouthConnekt Summit.
Jack mentioned how we met. What was impressive, and important for me, when we met for the first time and talked about Rwanda, Africa, e-commerce and many other things, but when I requested him to come to Rwanda so that together we find what we could do to improve the lives of Rwandans and by extension Africans, I didn’t see any doubts on Jack’s face.
There are many I talk to who I see on their faces: Rwanda? Africa? They think it should be only about being helped begging, as Jack just said, about poverty, diseases…
But Jack is a believer and he decides what to believe, many times wisely. So I am glad that I, and Rwanda, did not disappoint you.
The Electronic World Trade Platform opens up new frontiers in e-commerce and tourism for Rwanda, and will also boost the capacity and competitiveness of our entrepreneurs and business people.
Rwandan producers will be able to sell directly to a much larger set of customers than before, while bypassing costly intermediaries. This improves productivity and profitability as well.
Put differently, there really are no downsides to doing business on a global scale.
I want to challenge Rwandan companies, young people – men and women – to take full advantage of this technology, and not lose sight of fundamentals. It is up to each firm to produce high-quality goods that customers want to buy, and to ensure consistent supply.
Rwanda continues to make major investments in education and broadband infrastructure, in order to accelerate growth in the technology-linked industries that drive prosperity in upper-income economies.
Government will continue to do its part to promote innovation by guaranteeing a conducive business and regulatory climate.
In the latest World Bank Doing Business report, which was released today, Rwanda is now ranked as the 29th most business-friendly country in the world, up from 41st last year. So things are happening, and we should work harder and smarter and move even faster.
In fact, Rwanda is the only Low-Income Country (LIC) in the top 100, though we do not intend to remain in that low-income group for any longer than necessary. And this is the way to get out of that group.
Business reforms is something we have focused on for more than fifteen years, precisely to facilitate collaboration with global companies, like Alibaba.
What is happening here in Rwanda is part of the wider transformation underway on our continent.
Regional integration in Africa has taken a major step forward, through the adoption of the Continental Free Trade Area, and Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. So the market is growing.
We are responding to the urgency of creating high-quality jobs, for the ambitious and talented young people of our continent, of my country. That starts with the mindset of focusing on the opportunities right here in Africa, and working together to develop them for the future.
Let me reiterate that Rwanda greatly values our growing relationship with the Chinese private sector, and Alibaba Group in particular, as well as countries working together very closely where everyone is a winner.
The product being launched today is a tangible example of that, and one that we intend to build on, for mutual benefit.
Once again, I thank you all, and Jack Ma I thank you and your whole team for taking the time to be here with us, and it gives us an opportunity to build fast for the future of our country.