President Kagame opens World Export Development Forum in Rwanda
16 September 2014
Developing countries will need to significantly change their mindsets for their economies to transform.
Speaking during the opening session of the World Export Development Forum in Kigali, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said that it was important for SMEs in developing countries to shift their mindsets in three key areas: believing that they can do it, not giving up and seeing competition as an opportunity rather than a problem.
To achieve economic transformation, developing nations will have to believe in themselves, exercise hard word and resilience and develop the productive capacities of citizens, and their economies.
“Our path to prosperity may be harder and slower than it was for others, but there is no country that is so isolated and disadvantaged that it cannot find some competitive edge in the global economy,” President Kagame said. “However, to find the right trade niche requires not only hard work, but also resilience in the face of setbacks and disappointments. If the path were easy or obvious, it would have been discovered already.”
President Kagame added that to overcome geographical and other disadvantages, we must benchmark ourselves against the best in the world, not just against similar economies. He said that the government’s role remains finding ways to help people learn the lessons of competition faster and share them quickly. Pointing out that real wealth is in the mind and not on the ground, the President noted that building a competitive, modern economy requires smart investments in human capital, and productive knowledge.
Also speaking at the opening session was Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre. She explained that Africa remains the continent with the greatest promise. “Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s second fastest-growing continent in economic terms, with GDP rising by an average of 6% per year,” she said.
Ms Aranchez said that Sub-Saharan Africa’s demographics held great promise with young Africans’ entrepreneurial spirit and technology and innovation on the rise. Africa has become the second most attractive investment destination in the world and the continent’s rapid urbanisation, expanding middle class and increasing household expenditures are creating millions of consumers.
Africa is already taking its place as the market of the future and local SMEs can seize the opportunity to increase local value addition and begin selling to markets in the region. She noted that SMEs will play a large role in creating the 500 million jobs needed by the year 2030 to meet the demand of the growing global working age population.
Ms Gonzalez also announced the launch of ITC’s e-learning SME Trade Academy, which is now accessible to all from the ITC website. “The e-learning platform puts ITC’s expertise in the hands of entrepreneurs who want to tap into potential trade opportunities through practical online training and export related courses coupled with mentoring,” she said.
Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gatare, said that Rwanda shares the same vision as the ITC – that a vibrant private sector is the only way trade-led growth and development can be achieved.
You can view and download photos of the opening of the World Export Development Forum here.