The fifth edition of Kusi Ideas Festival has kicked off with rallying calls for African leaders to be innovative, resilient and committed to the continent’s strategic 2063 development blueprint.
Currently underway in Gaborone, Botswana, the event has brought together hundreds of dignitaries across the continent including Heads of State, captains of industry, policymakers, entrepreneurs, influencers in the new digital space, and students in tertiary institutions of learning.
The two-day conference will see delegates, both attending virtually and physically, share ideas to find innovative solutions to tackle challenges facing Africa.
In his opening remarks, Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi equated the festival to a stock exchange where people meet to exchange ideas, which are not only tradable but also provide policies where they will be commoditised and monetised for the good of Africa.
The annual event, President Masisi said, provides crucial stakeholders with a checkpoint to gauge their level of commitment to the transformative development plan for the continent thus enhancing the capacity and efficiency in attaining Agenda 2063 goals.
“This event has a unique offering of transformative and intentional conversations by thought leaders from across the continent to interrogate the various aspects and facets of our collective vision,” the President said.
The Botswana's head of state said the deliberations at the festival would bring out strategic direction to be considered by governments, civil servants, civil society organisations, investors and partner institutions towards fulfilling an Africa aspired by many. Crucial to the attainment of the desired goals, will be one Africa, moving with a unified purpose and progressively synergise its efforts of integration in conducting trade.
“It is our opportunity to reflect on the opportunities, challenges and setbacks concerning Africa’s blueprint of development. We are all energised by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, which came into force in 2021 and we must forge ahead with fortitude,” he said.
The Botswana head of state cautioned against the misleading thought that 2063 is still far saying it is only a generation away.
“Many of the young people here will be occupying leadership positions and it is for this reason this event provides a centre stage for young people to chart the future that they want,” he said.
The key issues to be discussed in this year’s conference include the creation of a prosperous Africa, one that is integrated and guided by the ideals of Africanism, a functioning free trade area, and respect for law and human rights to promote good governance and democracy.
“We must remember our aspiration to be a continent with a strong cultural heritage, common heritage, value and ethics and the growing global influence of its cultural productions. An Africa whose development is people-driven, particularly by its women and youth with care and protection for our children,” he said.
Nation Media Group (NMG) Board Chairman Dr Wilfred Kiboro challenged Africans to stop short-changing themselves and banish thoughts that they do not have what it takes to create a prosperous continent.
He wondered why many people in Europe, some parts of Asia and the Americas still thought of Africa as a country not knowing it has several nations, a clear indicator that Africa had not marketed itself as it should in the global space, he said.
Dr Kiboro said it was time for Africa to take responsibility for its development and stop looking back to the dark times of colonialism where many atrocities were meted out to Africans by foreign regimes.
“I believe we cannot continue to blame our colonial masters for the ills that face Africa. I believe we can confront and deal with all the challenges we face head-on. One of the biggest things I would love us to discuss in this conference is how we can decolonise the African mindset to believe in themselves and the possibility, that we have the answers to African problems,” he said.