Rwandan President Paul Kagame has urged African leaders to try and address the challenges of the continent now so as to guarantee the future of generations over the next 60 years.
Speaking during the Presidential round table at the Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali, Rwanda, Mr Kagame said it was important for the leaders to work together, if they were to achieve the progress Africans aspire for.
“The start is good and the foundation is laid. We need to push ourselves to fulfil what we have agreed on the reforms so that we can secure a good future for Africa’s young people,” Mr Kagame said.
“Much as we are not where we need to be or where want to be, we need to understand the magnitude of the task and admit that we are up to it, and that we will get there because we have the goodwill,” he added.
President Kagame was speaking alongside the DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Mahamat, the African Union special envoy for Infrastructure Raila Odinga and Vera Songwe, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.
“We successfully pushed through the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement as one of the ambitious strategies, that will see Africa work to fast-track the development countries want to achieve for the future generations,” President Kagame said.
He added that together with other reforms being pursed through the AU, the future for the continent’s largest population, that is the youth, will be secured.
The panellists were in agreement that investments in practical education, infrastructure and creation of opportunities for young people are some of the prerequisites to propelling Africa to achieve future growth and opportunity.
President Tsishekedi said he was keen in creating employment opportunities for his country’s youth, and would start by rolling out free education.
“Since I took that decision, we are seeing a large number of young people back in school. This is how we shall change our nation,” President Tsishekedi said.
The DRC leader also noted that quality infrastructure was key in guaranteeing the continent 60 years of prosperous growth.
“To enable us get it right will require integration and this is what informed our decision to request to join the East African Community,” President Tsishekedi said.
Mr Odinga challenged countries to empower youths with the right education and skills, as they are the core of the continent’s growth story.
“We need to empower them by creating investment opportunities, access to capital to allow them engage in enterprise development and also allow private sector to thrive and offer them economic empowerment platforms,” Mr Odinga said.
Ms Songwe challenged the leaders to position Africa as the place that will offer ideas 60 years hence.
“As it is, the continent’s share of trade is a mere three per cent, showing how poor our contribution to global ideas stands at,” he said.
African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Mahamat said that the continent needed to push for reforms if it were to guarantee its youth a better future.