31 October 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO), ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rwandese leader, President Paul Kagame today in Kigali opened the 7th African Economic Conference, calling it an opportunity for leading African economists to look beyond purely economic factors for solutions to Africa’s developmental problems.
Convened by the Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA), the African Development Bank, (AFDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the three-day conference is focusing on the theme Inclusive and Sustainable Development in an Age of Economic Uncertainty, according to ECA’s Information and Communication Service.
He said that analysts might point to issues of governance and lack of sufficient transformational leaders but “the real problem is that our economists must be ready to come up with new ideas for economic models that meet the needs of African people”.
President Kagame made a joke of Africa’s persistent economic woes despite the huge number of economist that the continent counts, saying “I think African economist have become politicians”.
“To be fair, if the economic progress of our countries were to depend only on sound economic planning, I think we would have made tremendous progress in Africa”, he said.
Frequently speaking off prepared notes, he made a hardly veil attempt to address the issue of recent sanctions imposed by some countries on Rwanda for its perceived role in the political instability that has bedeviled the Democratic Republic of Congo for over a decade.
He shed light on Rwanda’s progress and explained those achievements in the areas of women empowerment, information, communication and technology, food sufficiency and good governance as the fruit of deliberate planning, careful implementation and shared ownership of all programmes by the people of Rwanda.
Before the President, Ms Helen Clark and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, respectively UNDP Administrator and President of the African Development Bank had welcomed participants with encouraging words for action-oriented outcomes that could be used to transform current growth figures on Africa into concrete improvements on the livelihood of peoples of the region.
“In an era when economic volatility seem to have become the norm, achieving inclusive growth is a big challenge”, she said.
She called for greater and sustained transformational leadership, targeted actions to generate policy solutions that can drive growth economic growth in Africa.
Dr. Kaberuka argued that inclusive growth is both possible and indeed, a good investment for Africa but insisted on the need for its leaders to believe in the future of this continent.
Contending that for real development to occur, Africa must chart its course, the AfDB boss revealed that Africa, as a continent actually has more money than India, but questioned why it continues to seek assistance from the Asian country.
After today’s opening session, participants moved straight into two plenary sessions on Inclusive and sustainable development in an age of economic uncertainty and leadership for inclusive development.
In the first session, Jeff Koinange of the Nairobi-based KTV moderated a panel discussion between Mr. Kaberuka and Ms Clark.
During the second session two former leaders, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Prime Minister Joachim Rafael Branco of Sao Tome and Principe shared their personal experiences on leadership for inclusive development.