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A borderless Africa is inevitable, Kusi Festival panellists say

Monday December 09 2019
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Delegates during the Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Conference Arena in Kigali, Rwanda, on December 8, 2019. Countries have been urged to provide opportunities for youth in Africa to collaborate. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALLAN OLINGO

Africa will mature by giving priority to its own citizens, especially its millennials, who are the most hopeful generations across the world.

Speaking during a panel discussion at the ongoing Kusi Ideas Festival at Intare Arena in Kigali Rwanda, Mukhisa Kituyi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that the continent currently has a generation of young people who are more interested in collaborations than competition.

The discussion themed; "Borderless Africa and why it is a winner" saw Dr. Kituyi, Mr. Linus Gitahi, a board member of Msingi East Africa and Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) push for a borderless continent that can allow young people to freely interact, invest and migrate within the continent as they seek to push for their own growth country.

“These young people for opportunities beyond national frontiers. They overlook analogue boundaries and all the physical boundaries as they chase their dreams. This is the future and governments now need to create policies for them to ease travel, access and movement across the continent.” Dr. Kituyi said.

The continent leaders were also challenged to open up their borders to migrants and allow them to thrive within the continent as opposed to being self-centred and closed up, putting restrictive travel and migration policies.

“We need to understand that almost 53 per cent of migrant movements is intra African and for Africa, we should take advantage of this. Migrants are good both for the country they move to in terms of new and fresh human resource and also the countries they come from, through remittances. We need to encourage that,” Dr. Kituyi said.

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“The millennials want to trade the way they go about their activities in the social media. We cannot do them a favour. In the next sixty years, Africa will realise a mobilisation competition and the best example is the teen activist who is mobilising her campaign through social media and mobilising for a cause. This is the future and we need to offer the best ground work for these kind of people to thrive.”

Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) gave Rwanda as the perfect example on how a borderless vision can spur growth in the continent.

“There is no reason to fear opening our borders. And as Rwanda we have championed this for the last five years and it’s really helped us attract visitors, investments and this is what a borderless Africa entails,” Ms. Akamanzi said “As a country, we have also done the policy to become a proof of concept where we open up policies, make it so easy to set up businesses. This is a good example with firms that have set up through ideas, prototypes and help them set up then expand to the rest of the continent. Those are some great examples of how this can be done.”

Mr. Linus Gitahi, a board member of Msingi East Africa challenged governments to now focus on new educational curriculum pushing for digi-tech, which he said is e future.

“We have to invest in the right education that encourages entrepreneurship and create digi-tech. It is now important that we must create and support nontraditional careers like creative arts, creative business,” Mr. Gitahi said “We have to aggressively support our youths to protect their assets. Governments should have policies that protect these creative ideas through patents and copy right registration.

African governments were also urged to support the youths in accessing capital to promote their enterprise ideas, as this will help them become viable and also create employment.

“We must encourage our small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to integrate and prosper. We give them easy access to capital and also a good business environment. They are being run by young people and this will spur their growth story,” Mr. Gitahi said.

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