Good morning, and a very warm welcome to Rwanda.
I want to thank the World Bank Group for bringing the fourth edition of the Development Finance Forum to Kigali.
Not so long ago, I got a call from Dr Jim Kim. He was telling me the background to this Forum, the content. We ended on a note where he was inquiring, without saying it directly, if I would be around. And in the same way, I indicated that I would be happy to be around, and I am happy to be joining you today.
It is gratifying to see such strong participation from around East Africa and even beyond, joining the very substantial delegation from the World Bank Group. The focus this year is investment opportunities in the East African Community.
The three priority areas have been chosen with consideration. Housing finance, tourism, and agribusiness are all expanding rapidly in our region. These industries can energise the economy as a whole, particularly the service sector.
But despite the strong prospects, we are far from tapping the full potential or even meeting existing demand for affordable, high-quality products. In the global context, there is an excess of capital looking for profitable ventures, such as these, as we all know. Yet in Africa, there is a chronic deficit of large-scale investment funding.
That is what we are here to address, in practical terms. In that sense, the name of this event is really too modest, if I may say so.
The Development Finance Forum is not just another conference; it is an intensive problem-solving and design workshop, involving all key stakeholders. The goal is therefore to drive innovation in both the public and private sectors in order to jumpstart and scale up business activity in markets, such as ours.
This excellent initiative enhances the World Bank’s human capital strategy by putting substantial resources and attention behind the new Cascade Approach to public-private collaboration.
This setting also makes the most of the International Finance Corporation’s expertise in regulatory reform and private sector development, as well as the guarantee products offered by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
The heart of the Bank’s Maximising Finance for Development perspective is that public development funding is increasingly scarce, and that prosperity is generated when government and business are working well together.
This philosophy is fundamentally aligned with our efforts here in Rwanda. For example, business climate reform has been a central preoccupation of ours for more than a decade.
The same principles are at work in East Africa where we have a One Area Network, an integrated customs architecture, and ambitious plans for regional infrastructure.
Public-private collaboration is also the driver of recent achievements at the level of the African Union, particularly the Continental Free Trade Area. The inclusion of business leaders at African Union Summits is now routine, and that is making a difference to the quality of dialogue.
We still have a long way to go, but the direction of travel is clear, and the necessary partnerships are increasingly in place. Among the most important is Africa’s partnership with the institutions that make up the World Bank Group.
For example, for Rwanda this includes much-appreciated support for our efforts on energy, sustainable urbanisation, agriculture, and social protection. We will continue to do our part to make the relationship as productive and beneficial as possible for our citizens.
On this note, I wish to welcome you once again, and wish you productive deliberations today and tomorrow, and I thank you very much for your kind attention.