Shaping Africa’s agenda in the global context: President Kagame at WEF 2019
Rwanda’s Paul Kagame delivered remarks at a discussion with African Heads of State on Shaping Africa’s Agenda in the Global Context as part of the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizterland. Below are his remarks.
With good leaders we will be just fine. Being old alone is not a bad thing. I appreciate so many of you making time for this important conversation, most especially the Heads of State and Government here with us.
This session is timely. The conditions have never been so favourable for Africa to take the lead in shaping its own global agenda. For too long, we ceded responsibility for Africa’s agenda to others, with some individuals even benefitting, but challenges relating to migration, security and climate change among others mean there is no longer any actor who sees an advantage in an Africa that is institutionally weak and economically stagnant
Put differently: Everyone benefits from a stronger, more united Africa. This is reflected in the more constructive tone of Africa’s partnerships with China, Europe and others. But no one is going to transform Africa on our behalf. It is up to us!
However, today, the pace and quality of integration in Africa is increasing noticeably and this is very significant
Last year, for example, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement was adopted and it is likely to come into force this year. We also agreed on a timetable for the free movement of people and on the establishment of a single African air transport market
At the next AU Summit we expect to consider an innovative proposal to harmonize digital identity platforms across Africa, with common technical standards and data protection norms
The goal is to bring all Africans into productive, knowledge-based economic activity. This is an example of how Africa can work together to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
This dynamism is consequential for the future. After all, it is no easy matter to forge consensus in a union composed of more than 50 countries and several interlocking regional economic communities
International cooperation is indispensable. It was the brutality of the two World Wars that gave rise to the multilateral system which lately seems to be in crisis, as the World Economic Forum has been highlighting
Reforming the system should not mean a return to the status quo. For many of us, it was hardly a golden age. Rule-making was not inclusive and the balancing of geopolitical interests among major powers often came at a very high price for those on the periphery.
For Africa, the most important thing is to adopt a posture of active responsibility toward shaping our place in the world
In the multi-stakeholder spirit of this gathering, this also requires strategic leadership and investment from the private sector particularly in terms of technology and industrialization
Perhaps the question we should be looking to answer is: Are there any common interests that we can define together, to restore a moral centre to multilateralism?