President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has expressed fears that the economic and political gains recorded by African countries in the last 20 years could be reversed if the instability that a number of them are experiencing is allowed to fester.
Kagame, who officially opened the 2014 Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) yesterday in Kigali, Rwanda, noted that Africa has been identified as one of the few places in the world with serious potential for growth, with many businesses attracting global attention.
He pointed out that long spells of instability in parts of the continent, high energy and transport costs, fragmented and non-integrated economies, and a high dependency on primary commodities were some of the well-known obstacles that have made Africa fall short despite numerous opportunities.
Apparently raising concerns over the menace of terror groups in Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries, the president cautioned that instability in any African country affects another and therefore called on governments to work together to resolve problem(s) facing any particular country.
According to him, “over the last two decades, many African countries have worked to resolve major problems and began to lay the foundation for future prosperity. Take the example of instability. A number of difficult situations around the continent today remind us that progress can always be reversed. We also have to be reminded that together me may rise or together we may fall. We are responsible for ourselves. But we are also, to some extent, responsible for each other.
“Instability in any part of Africa affects us all. That is why we have seen increased engagement by African leaders, the African Union, and regional organisations in peace and security matters on the continent. Further progress depends on Africa’s ability to work together and with other partners on meaningful mechanisms to resolve conflicts.
It also calls for continued strengthening of our respective internal systems to prevent conflicts in the first place.”
Saying African governments could not afford to be laid back and take the future of the continent for granted, Kagame stated: “Yes, Africa is rising. But it is not enough to exceed the low expectations that others had of us, and which we, at times, even came to have about ourselves.”
Welcoming participants to the event, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, urged terrorist groups wreaking havoc in Nigeria, Kenya, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa to give the continent a break.
“To give our citizens, especially young Africans, the lives they dream of, we have a lot higher to climb. We know what needs to be done. Our countries have smart policies that we have seen work elsewhere in the world. But the kind of rapid progress we all want will only be achieved by sound implementation. In particular, taking Africa’s development to the next level will require a much bigger role for the private sector which generates jobs and more wealth. As governments, it is crucial to consistently invest in and strengthen our efforts to create environments that nurture and promote innovation and entrepreneurship."
The first to take advantage of an improved business environment should be African companies,” he told African leaders, captains of industry, experts and other high-level personalities present at the opening ceremony.
Reiterating the bank's condemnation of terror acts, he lamented that the groups were interrupting the economic takeoff of African countries.
He said whatever they claim they are fighting for, they are losing the battle.
While delving into the achievement of the bank in the last 50 years of existence, Kaberuka noted that AfDB had remained true to its mandate stating that it is an institution which Africans and their partners could be very proud of.
According to him, "from a modest start, today, the African Development Bank is a first class, world class, institution of global standing, out there with the very best."
He disclosed from inception in 1964 to date, the bank has committed about $110 billion to development in the continent.
Kaberuka, also noted that the bank is an institution, with franchise value that has grown by the day and which continues to attract new members. "Last week I was in Luxemburg to sign the acts of the membership of that country and I am honoured to welcome them today, joining Turkey which has now completed membership procedures," he said.