During the second second day of the Milken Institute Global Conference, President Kagame joined a panel on increasing access to global capital alongside Mark Cutis, the chief investment officer of Abu Dhabi Investment Council; Jay Ireland, President and CEO of General Electrics Africa; Seth Merrin, Founder and CEO of Liquidnet Holdings; and Ashish Thakkar, founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation.
The panelists discussed challenges and opportunities that will ensure the increase access to capital in Africa including perception of Africa, business regulations and fighting corruption.
Speaking on Rwanda’s growth, President Kagame emphasized the ongoing growth trend and opportunities for investment across Africa:
“Rwanda’s story is an African story. The growth rates across Africa have been consistently high. We are working together, developing infrastructure together, integrating our capital markets. Integration is key to serve as many people as we can.”
The panel called on investors to invest in understanding the local markets and move beyond the negative perception of Africa.
On the issue of perception, President Kagame called for an improvement in Africa’s understanding based on accurate facts:
“Africa is not short of bad story that travel faster than good stories but people need to understand, know Africa the way it is and make informed decision about their investments.”
Addressing the common view that Africa is corrupt, Jay Ireland, President and CEO of Genera Electrics Africa pointed to the misperception and the need for investors to take responsibility:
“There is corruption everywhere in the world. Corruption is always a two way street, with an asker and a giver. Companies must take a stand”
Ashish Thakkar pointed to the gap between the perception of Africa and reality:
“The perception vs reality is truly different. The continent is truly transforming. Our continent symbol of that is Rwanda with President Kagame leadership. What happened 20 years ago and where we are today is unbelievable and this is a reflection of what is happening across the continent.”
Mark Cutis, the chief investment officer of Abu Dhabi Investment Council challenged investors to ask themselves whether Africa is developing, is this continent where I want to be and will things be happening in next 20 years.
The panel called on investors to invest in Africa, move beyond misperception and invest in localized knowledge rather than the outdated model of operating offices from western cities.