Mindset change will deliver a transformed Africa, says President Kagame

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has said that Africa’s transformation will first happen at the level of mindsets before it is translated into concrete actions.

While making closing remarks at the African Transformation Forum (ATF) in Kigali, yesterday, President Kagame illustrated that what is needed for Africa’s transformation to take place will start with changing how people think and how better to allocate resources.

“Transformational change happens at the level of mindsets…we all want a prosperous, stable, and equitable Africa and we want it as soon as possible. Everything starts with a clear and simple vision for the future that everyone understands and agrees on,” Kagame said.

The two-day ATF inaugural meeting, which came to a close yesterday, was co-hosted by African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), one of Africa’s leading think-tanks, and the Government of Rwanda.

The meeting brought together over 300 participants, including the continent’s leading analysts drawn from various backgrounds as well as regional and local government officials.

The forum sought to unlock Africa’s rapid and sustained growth and establish the continent as part of the global supply chain. It also sought to make Africa globally competitive not only in terms of exports but also as a frontier manufacturing base, through peer-to-peer exchange of ideas on transformation pathways.

Kagame said that to deliver on the continent’s envisioned development agenda; African governments must lead, catalyse, support and make investments through bringing together partners to fix market failures and mitigate development risks.

“If we know where we want to go and what has to be done to get there, then why do we seem stuck on implementation? A wish list is not a strategy for getting things done. It is a recipe for an infinite loop of conferences and declarations.”

Rwanda’s resilience

Drawing example of Rwanda’s transformational footprints—from an almost failed state 22 years ago to becoming a top performer, not only in Africa, but globally, on various objective measures of growth, business climate, health, education, crime prevenetion, anti-corruption, women’s empowerment, trust in public institutions, and freedom, among others—Kagame said that Rwanda opted to invest in her population and began by being determined to use Rwanda’s resources to address challenges.

“Rwandans are ordinary people, with an extraordinary history. Twenty-two years ago, Rwanda’s very survival was at stake and everything was a priority,” he said, adding Rwanda had not many choices at the that time, but to try and do everything, withholding nothing.

“We figured it out by doing it, because we had no choice. Help took years to arrive or was not appropriate to our circumstances. We had to start with our own resources and ideas, and in fact our desire to get out of the mess and chaos our country was in. This taught us some important things: You don’t need to have all the answers or all the funds to get started,” he said.

Citizen participation

President Kagame added that, the reason why mindset is vital among citizens is simply because they are the ones who hold the most risks of transformation.

“Mindset change is not a technical challenge; it is political and social, because it is about people. Citizens bear most of the risk of transformation. They have to be included in the decisions and understand the benefits because success comes from what they do every day,” he said, adding that citizens’ success comes from what they do every day.

African brands

President Kagame said Africa is endowed with more resources of what is needed, what is left is value addition, intraregional trade and promotion of local products.

“We will never win by discounting the quality of our own products and people. Working together, with an understanding of the strategic environment, we can speed up progress,” Kagame said.

Meanwhile, KY Amoako, the president of ACET, said that Rwanda hosting the maiden forum was timely, noting the country offers the “most fitting” example of how transformational leadership can stimulate desired development.

“Rwanda, under the good leadership of President Kagame, has demonstrated that transformation needs ethical and committed leadership,” Amoako said, adding that Africa needs to embrace good leadership and set development goals based on the available resources.

Rwanda’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Claver Gatete, noted that the country will base on the ideas and resolutions shared from the ATF meet to draw up the next national development agenda.

Source: The New Times

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