Marrakech, 29 May 2013

On his last day at the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Marrakech, President Kagame participated in a High level debated dubbed “Africa Transforming Africa: Is this Africa’s hour.” President stressed on the fact that despite challenges facing the continent, there are huge opportunities for all.

“When was it not Africa’s hour? In fact we have seen economic booms in the past that have come to pass and left us with nothing. Everything is there in Africa to enable us move in the direction we want to and attain the level of development we desire to have, however there are certain things we need to do and be able to make that consistency sustainable. It’s up for us to be able to tap into available opportunities and move forward.”

Other panelists in the debate included; the President of AfDB, Donald Kaberuka, Founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mo Ibrahim, the South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and moderated by BBC’s senior journalist, Komla Dumor.

President Kagame also added that Africa’s agenda cannot be left with the leadership alone and has to be taken to the people;

“You can always measure leadership, service delivery and implementation on results. Optimism for Africa is solid ground. However this means more work. Integration is key, bringing Africa in a practical way rather than in theory. There is good ground to believe Africa can make it to where we want to be considering the continent’s resourcefulness. The continent is rich in material and human resource, there is a story we can write. We just got to do things right.”

President Kagame was also hailed for opening borders to enable Africans who travel to Rwanda receive visas upon arrival – since the initiative was started in January this year, more than 10,000 travelers have benefited from this. The decision was taken in a bid to remove formalities in visa acquisition from Rwanda’s respective embassies in the travelers’ countries of origin.

“The move to issue visas to African nationals demonstrates that, it’s possible and it carries no dangers to anyone who does it. Integration is key and in the East African Community we are beginning to make progress in the customs union, common market and we are discussing the common currency and moving possibly to political federation in the near future. This raises an issue of bringing Africa together in a practical way rather than in theory. We have seen more people coming into Rwanda from across the continent and most are as good as we would have expected and if there is anyone involved in wrong doing then, the laws of the country will catch up with them.”

According to AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, something extraordinary is happening within the continent.

“We have seen substantial growth, what we need is to keep the momentum. The Growth Domestic Product of the continent has multiplied four and half times in ten years and it has never happened anywhere apart from China, Malaysia and India. In Britain it took them 150 years.”

The AfDB president pointed out that Africa still has challenges to overcome like human development and infrastructure issues.

However Mo Ibrahim added:

“The agenda of economic integration in Africa is not progressing well; we need to open up our borders.”

President Kagame ended by reminding the attendees that if Africans need to transform the continent and realise the benefits for all the people, things won’t happen until people double the efforts to make them happen.

More of our citizens are the ones who are frustrated more than we the leaders, which itself is not a good story and if we the leaders got tired of looking at this particular frustration of our citizens, then we need to be doing better. We need to continue to invest in our people in establishing institutions, investing in out women and youth and give them the cause to believe that this continent is theirs.”