Highlights from President Kagame’s address at the ATF

President Kagame

“We are happy to be associated with [the Africa Transformation Forum] going forward.”

“Everything starts with a clear and even very simple vision for the future that everyone understands and agrees on.

“We all want a prosperous, stable and equitable Africa and we want it as soon as possible. Period. This contrasts so radically with the African past and present that we rightly speak of the need for transformation in the real sense. That is easy to say but making it happen is understandably going to be harder. However, it can become a reality within our lifetimes as the detailed work presented in this forum illustrates.”

“This is the step two: a focused set of concrete and measurable outcomes to target, paths to bridge and barriers to remove like electricity, skills, access to finance, agricultural productivity, manufacturing, trade and so on.”

“If we know where we want to go and what has to be done to get there then why do we seem stuck on implementation?”

“A wish list is not a strategy for getting things done. It is an endless loop of conferences and declarations.”

“The institutions and individuals represented in this room full of wisdom, talent, knowledge– cannot do everything or even a small part of what needs to be done. We simply don’t have the money, time, or transformation.”

“We really only have two strategic tools in my opinion: 1. Let’s change how people think. 2. Shape how resources are allocated and later on utilized.”

“Rwandans are ordinary people with an extraordinary history.”

“22 years ago, Rwanda’s very survival was at stake and everything was a priority. We figured it out by doing it, because we had no choice. Help took years to arrive, was not appropriate to our circumstances. We had to start with our own resources and ideas and in fact, desire to get out of the mess and chaos our country was in.”

“This taught us some important things: you don’t need to have all the answers or all the funds to get started. Constantly assess and correct course, but don’t wait for perception of risk.”

“First, transformational change happens at the level of mindset.”

“This challenge is not technical. It is political and social because it’s about people. A mindset to agency, ownership, responsibility and service as well as, quite frankly, the mindset of money making and long term investment.”

“Citizens bear most of the risk of transformation. They have to be included in the benefits of transformation.”

“We need mechanisms that include everybody and encourage things to move forward.”

“No institution or individual has all the resources or answers. The right strategy is to use our limited means to send clear signals to the market and to partners about how best to allocate and utilize these resources.”

“Funds will come to scale up good initiatives that are underway.”

“In the African context… we can grow very old waiting for the invisible hand of the market to work its magic. Government very often must lead, catalyze, support, and invest by bringing in partners to fix market failures and mitigate risk.”

“We actually already have much of what we need right here in Africa. We will never win by discounting the quality of our own products and our people.”

“Finally, we have to stay adaptable and flexible. Plans and frameworks should not become a barrier to action or to course corrections. Mistakes will be made along the way and money wasted. But that should not be the end of the road. But it serves the purpose. It helps to discover the most effective approach more quickly and build public understanding and unity of purpose.”

“Neither business nor government can afford to try one idea, wait years before it works, then scrap it and start the cycle again.”

“The coalition for transformation in Africa promises to be an innovative and promising outcome of this gathering.”

“One way to avoid it becoming a venue for more talking among like minded elite is to build an element of outward facing service in the work of each chapter.”

“It’s not even the decline [of aid] that we should be worried about now, we should have seen it coming but I think we needed to have been worried about– even when it was still available how it was being invested.”

“It has been very helpful because it addressed a lot of problems that were there and helped the many needy people who by the way are also a product of our bad investment of aid.”

“If you invest anything badly or wrongly including the aid we’re getting all you get is number of people increasing who need aid.”

“There has been that cycle where we have invested in perpetuating a problem.”

“I think the decline of it is a kind of paradox– it’s a very bad thing but also a very good thing.”

“I’m looking forward to the best ideas that can come from this room given the knowledge the talent the experience that mark the backgrounds of many people in this room.”

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