Paul Kagame encourages Africans to determine their choice of development

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“Agriculture remains a crucial cornerstone to Africa’s economic transformation, and there are many examples where it has been pivotal to the realized growth, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said during the Plenary for the High-Level Seminars on May 28, at the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco. “Agriculture must however be treated as a business and not just a subsistence activity. With increased urbanization, demand for food is expected to double in the next 10 years. A huge market therefore exists.”

A potential solution, he said, is to transform the agricultural sector, to modernize it and to develop infrastructure. “We need to adopt long-term strategies for industrialization and manufacturing, he said.” By investing in agriculture, we will improve the lives of thousands of people, the Rwandan President assured, citing the example of his own country, Rwanda, where, between 2011 and 2013, one million people were lifted out of poverty.

“In 20 years Africa’s labour force is projected to be the largest in the world,” Kagame said. “Young people need to be equipped with vital skills” and opportunities, he continued. “It is an absolute imperative if we are to make the African people our number one resource, which they are.”

Regarding the transformation of the continent, Kagame said it demands a mobilization of an enormous amount of capital. “The African Development Bank will need to play a very crucial part – in raising additional capital to support domestic resources, as well as [providing] technical advice to advance the transformational agenda.” He equally estimated that the transformation of Africa will not be possible without the improvement of governance systems, with African leaders being accountable to their people.

Discussing the issue of gender, he said that women should not be cast aside. “It makes no sense that 53 per cent of the population is marginalized. It is not just a matter of logic, it is also about rights. To invest in projects led by women is always a good thing.”

For the Rwandan leader, there is no doubt that Africans are ready for change. However, he added, “they should create their own policies and free themselves from foreign powers. Why should Africa be constantly considered the playground of former settlers? I would like to tell them this: we want to be considered as partners and sit at the same table as you.”

In closing Paul Kagame encouraged Africans to determine their own road to development. He also asked them to shake the victim mentality once and for all and to stand together.