Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has said that Africa’s prosperity lies in the hands of entrepreneurial youth who should be supported to unleash their full potential.
Kagame made the remarks during the launch of the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) aimed to create a new roadmap for Africa that highlights business opportunities and development across sectors an initiative that was launched on the margins of the ongoing 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
“To make Africa unstoppable, we must unleash the potential of young people and there is no better way than through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship creates jobs using the power of innovation, creativity, and technology,” Kagame said in a speech he delivered virtually.
More than 100 global leaders attended the launch of the initiative dubbed ‘Unstoppable Africa’.
“Africa’s young men and women are transcending obstacles and building our continent’s future. Unfortunately, the enabling environment is often not as good as it should be in terms of funding, infrastructure, and heavy regulation. We need to do better,” said Kagame.
He said the conference was an opportunity to develop strong public-private partnerships,
The two-day event was organized by the UN Global Compact in partnership with the African Union, UNDP Africa, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the UN Office of the Special Advisor on Africa.
The Global Africa Business Initiative is designed to highlight opportunities in Africa where every sector of the economy from manufacturing to agriculture to services to finance is on a growth trajectory.
Africa has more to offer
According to the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, Africa is an essential part of global business and a major investment destination.
“Africa includes some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and Africa has more to offer. Every sector of the African economy is growing, the continent’s vibrant, young population represents a dynamic workforce and a massive consumer and business market,” said Guterres.
He urged the world to see the continent for what it is – a land of enormous potential and resources – and noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement will further accelerate investment and trade opportunities.
“The continent boasts of significant solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy sources that could make it a renewable energies leader. The transition to clean energy could create more than 6 million new jobs in Africa by 2050. And yet, it has received just 2 percent of global investment in renewables over the past decade,” said the UN Chief.
During the launch, it was noted that Africa has staked its position as the cornerstone of the world’s future. The continent is now positioned to be the most important driver of global business with a US$2.5 trillion market opportunity.
According to Strive Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, “We need the policy framework on the ground that makes it possible to see the African market. We need to make it easier for someone who starts in Kenya to believe they can also be working in Ghana or in the DRC.”
Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General of AfCFTA, emphasized that this is the right time to tap into Africa’s enormous opportunities.
“It is either now or never. We have to seize this opportunity to take the first steps. It is very important that we create opportunities for the private sector to scale,” he said.
Wawira Njiru, a Kenyan entrepreneur, nutritionist, and philanthropist, who is also the executive director of Food for Education emphasized that Africa’s prosperity depends on a healthy population.
“African governments and philanthropy should invest in nutrition for Africa’s largest demographic-children. Africa is the future and the future is now-we must take care of the basics,” she said.
The Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, also pushed for bringing the Caribbean on board saying that it is the bridge between Africa and the United States.
“Until we realize that we must work together, people are going to continue to use the imperialistic tool of divide and rule. We cannot let language and geography separate us as people of African descent,” she said.