President Paul Kagame has said that Africans are not poor but have got embedded in the ‘consumption’ culture for too long at the expense of making long-term strategic investments which keeps them in the cycle of poverty.
Kagame was speaking on Tuesday in Kigali while officiating at the Transform Africa Summit 2018 Opening Ceremony.
The Head of State said that technology is the foundation of modern and high-income economies, a reason why Africa is investing so much in physical infrastructure and in the education required to use it. He noted that the invested efforts are bearing fruit.
However, Kagame said the most advanced technology cannot compensate for shortcomings in other areas which are essential for economic competitiveness.
“This agreement will transform Africa, but only if we translate its provisions into reality on the ground. A favourable investment climate is critical in order to build trust in African economies, attract the right partnerships and spur innovation,” he said.
Kagame challenged participants at the summit that though many African countries lead in business-friendly reforms, achieving good rankings is not an end in itself.
He said the goal is to attract more and better investments, an exercise that requires to effectively communicate these facts to global markets and African investors.
“We must work harder to ensure that African private capital is mobilised to participate fully in major projects on the continent. There is this myth that we always have to look outside the continent to fund major initiatives. But this simply can’t be true, when Africa is losing billions every year through lost taxes, sending private assets abroad, and other factors,” he said.
“We are not poor, not at all. The issue is more the mindset that it is normal to use our money for consumption while we leave strategic long-term investing to others. It means that no matter how much we earn, we would remain poor,” Kagame noted.
“Whether this comes from colonialism or not is irrelevant. It is up to us to identify mindsets that hold us back as a continent, and change how we do business,” he challenged Africans.
Kagame said that these elements remind Africans that the application of technology and innovation takes place in a wider context. He reminded to harness these factors together holistically to achieve the results that people expect and deserve.
He said that the African Union and the International Telecommunications Union together with the private sector have combined efforts to bring broadband to under-served communities by harmonising spectrum and standards.
Transform Africa Summit is a leading annual continental forum that convenes global and regional leaders from government, business and international organizations to collaborate on new ways of shaping, accelerating and sustaining Africa’s on-going digital revolution.