On January 23, in Davos, President Paul Kagame began the day with a breakfast meeting with CEOs attending the World Economic Forum. Hosted by former Prime Minister Hon. Tony Blair with Chairman of Meridian Group Marc Holtzman, the breakfast brought together global business leaders who shared their experience and learned more about business opportunities in the Rwanda.
Among the companies represented, companies such as Heineken Group and Metal Corps defined the business environment in Rwanda as efficient and easily accessible.
Following the meeting, President Kagame attended the panel titled “De-risking Africa: How are Africa’s leaders mitigating investment risk in Africa’s economies?” with African Heads of State President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Jonathan Goodluck of Nigeria along with Louise Arbour of the International Crisis Group, Chairman of SABMiller Graham Mackay and Chairman and CEO of Bharti Enterprise Sunil Bharti Mittal.
During the session, President Kagame challenged the audience to look beyond the rhetoric of risk that often surrounds Africa.
“The major problem is that Africa’s story is written from somewhere else and not by African themselves. That is why the rest of the world looks at Africa and wants to define it. They want to shape the perception about Africa. The best we can do for ourselves is to own our problems, own our solutions and write our stories. That will also give us the right definition about the level of risks, real risks and the perception part of it will also be put in its right place,” President Kagame told the audience.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria all echoed President Kagame’s point on the need to change the global perception of Africa. “Is Africa risky more than any other region in the world? It looks like there is a perception about Africa which needs to be dealt with. There is evidence that Africa is growing…that African leaders have collectively come together to do things to move Africa forward,” President Jacob Zuma explained.
President Kagame’s first day at the forum was also marked by the launch of the first commodities exchange-the East Africa Commodities exchange. The EAX was established through an agreement with the Government of Rwanda with Ngali Holdings, Berggruen Holdings, Heirs Holdings and 50 Ventures. The East Africa Commodities exchange will be operated by NASDAQ and will serve as a means to increase accessibility to price determination to producers.
President Kagame ended the day with a dinner hosted by founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum Prof Schwab and wife Mrs. Schwab.