Kigali, 20 March 2012-Over the last two days the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture hosted the second meeting of the Grow Africa “First Wave” Initiative. The meeting brought together high ranking officials from the Agriculture Ministries of the seven participating countries. Included in this group were three Agriculture Ministers from Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Kenya. Diplomatic representatives from the G8 Countries in Kigali, Development Partners and representatives from the AU, NEPAD and World Economic Forum were also in attendance.
The purpose of the meeting was to encourage the World Economic Forum and G8 Summit to support “First Wave” countries as they prepare their investment blueprints. The meeting also served as preparation for the upcoming Grow Africa Forum meeting in Addis Ababa on 8-9 May 2012 and for an initiative at the G8 Summit on 18-19 May which will focus on food security and agricultural investment.
Initiated at the 2011 World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, and convened jointly by WEF, the African Union Commission and the NEPAD Agency, the Grow Africa Forum has included seven countries as part of its ‘first wave’. Rwanda was invited by the WEF and the AU to participate in the Grow Africa Forum, a multi-country platform to attract and promote private investment in agriculture.
The first meeting of the Grow Africa Forum was held in Dar Es Salaam from 7-8 November 2011 and included representatives from “First Wave” countries, alongside private investors and major donors. The “First Wave” countries include Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda.
Officially opening the meeting, the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, encouraged countries to engage in the strategic shift from public to private-sector led investment as a prerequisite for agriculture transformation and cited Rwanda as an example of success.
“We have managed to generate agricultural growth rates averaging 5% in the previous five years, and we have achieved food security.
This has directly contributed to lifting one million Rwandans out of poverty over this period. But if we are to generate new jobs and reduce poverty, the sector requires a stable economy and an innovative and active business environment. This is why Rwanda has worked to streamline regulations and make it easier for entrepreneurs to invest in the economy. And why we have been recognised as the fastest global reformer in the World Bank’s Doing Business ratings.”
In respect to the upcoming investment Forum in Addis Ababa on 8-9 May, the “first-wave” Grow Africa countries resolved to accelerate efforts to develop investment blueprints and prepare country delegations for the meeting. They discussed establishing appropriate institutional mechanism to ensure appropriate investor after care as well as making the necessary reforms for increased private sector investment and job creation in the agriculture sector. With a view to the upcoming G8 Summit, the “first wave” countries highlighted the need for G8 countries to invest in enabling infrastructure to unlock private sector potential. The focus on improving inter-regional trade and encouraging companies in G8 countries to engage in the Grow Africa Process was also discussed.
The meeting was hailed as a success by all involved and participants will now continue preparations for the upcoming Grow Africa Forum and the G8 meeting in May. The Government of Rwanda was proud to share some of its success in promoting agriculture and provide the forum for participating countries to share ideas and experiences.