This year’s Kusi Ideas Festival officially kicked off this morning at the Intare Conference arena in Kigali, Rwanda, in what promises to be an illuminating discussion about the future of the continent.
The Festival, organised by Nation Media Group (NMG), brings together various stakeholders and leaders led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, and African Union Infrastructure Envoy Raila Odinga, among other dignitaries.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nation Media Group Board Chairman Dr Wilfred Kiboro said the festival is being held in Rwanda because the country represents the possibilities that societies everywhere in Africa, particularly those with less painful history, can achieve.
“We are celebrating 60 years as Nation Media Group and with this in mind, we thought it would be good for the continent to have a conversation about its future. That’s why we are here today,” Dr. Kiboro said.
“We thought of bringing together Africans to talk on what they’d like the continent to be for the youth. This Kusi Ideas meet is for the young people to talk about what they’d like to see in the next 60 years in terms of infrastructure, politics, education, health, agriculture and technology.”
Kusi Ideas will provide a strategic platform to look back at Africa over the past 60 years and set the pace for the next 60 years. African countries can draw great lessons from the discussions. The discussions at the Kusi Ideas Festival will focus on four key themes; Feeding Africa's Billions: Who will Grow The Food, Who will Get To Eat?; Towards a Borderless Continent - Climate Change; Winning the Fight - Guarding The Gates; and Human Security in Africa.
Speaking on the sidelines, Mr. Odinga said he will champion for African governments to provide more opportunities for the youth to thrive.
“As leaders, we need to look at where we are headed and not dwell on the past. When we start this, it means we will be planning for the continents future – its young people. They don’t really want to know much about the physical boundaries but what economic securities we will provide for them. That is why I am here,” Mr. Odinga added.
During the plenary discussion on the continent’s agricultural future, panellists were in agreement that the use of technology could hold the key in helping Africa feed itself.
“The continent spends more than $35 billion on food imports, yet with a $11 billion of investments, we can change this. We need now to start seeing investments that transform our own agricultural opportunities,” Dr. Diane Karusisi, the Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Kigali, said.
It also emerged that the continent still lags behind in the use of technology in improving agricultural practices, even as young people come up with new technologies to help famers access credit.
“We now need to see more young people take up the use of artificial intelligence, blockchain and other new technologies to help improve the agricultural prospects. There is an opportunity for them to blend technology with agriculture for the best of the continent,” Sarwat Hussein, senior advisor, Africa Media Initiative said.