President Paul Kagame believes that through the continental integration and regional and a regional approach, Africa can achieve economies of scale and become a global innovation laboratory.
Kagame made the remarks as he spoke at the G20 Investment Summit alongside other African Heads of State and Government.
Twelve African Heads of States and leaders of German businesses with projects in Africa participated in the G20 “Compact with Africa” initiative initiated by Germany last year in a bid to promote private investment in Africa, including in infrastructure.
The Summit is held under the patronage of German Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel.
Kagame who is the Chairperson of the African Union said that since the last summit last year, there have been major developments at the African Union including the signing of the agreements on Free Movement of Persons and the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which is making Africa a single trade bloc.
The President said that the G20 Compact with Africa therefore comes at the right time to reinforce Africa’s enterprise-based development consensus as he explained that the initiative builds on the strong relationships ‘’we enjoy with Germany, the European Union, and other G20 partners, as well as similar programs with the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank.’’
Kagame urged the participants to challenge themselves to go beyond the usual routines as “pouring new wine into old bottles is not a winning formula.”
“After all,” Kagame said, “the best way to speed up business climate reform is to attract more global firms to Africa. This produces a demonstration effect, which in turn generates even more productive investment. In other words, a virtuous cycle.”
He said the Volkswagen “Moving Rwanda” venture is a good example of what is possible in attracting global firms in Africa and highlighted the importance of the regional approach and continental integration in this journey.
“The supply chain involves multiple countries in East and Southern Africa, in a “hub-and-spoke” system. A regional approach is key to achieving economies of scale in Africa. Continental integration is also making this an increasingly viable strategy,” he explained.
Kagame said “Africa can be a global innovation laboratory. East Africa is a young market for new car sales. But we have a great need for mobility solutions, which raise the productivity of the wider regional economy.”
“Volkswagen is not only assembling vehicles in Rwanda, it is pioneering next-generation business models for shared, environmentally-friendly transport. Volkswagen’s approach has attracted other major players that might not otherwise be in Rwanda, notably Siemens. But it would not work without local talent’” he noted.“
Volkswagen Rwanda already employs dozens ofRwandans and East Africans. The senior management team includes several Rwandan graduates of German universities. And a youthful Rwandan start-up company is developing the ride-sharing software,” he said.
“There is a tremendous amount that we can accomplish together if we focus on funding and de-risking creative investments led by the private sector, such as the ones we will learn about today,” Kagame said as he concluded his remarks.
The impact of the G20 “Compact with Africa” can already be felt on the continent, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
“The point wasn’t just talking about Africa, but with it,” Merkel said as she addressed the conference. “The Compact with Africa follows a different, a new approach – it is about an equal footing type of partnership, aiming to be long-lasting and benefit all equally.”
“Apart from strengthening Africa as a location for investment it is also important to establish fair trade relations between Europe and Africa,” Merkel said.