The 7th Edition of the Africa CEO Forum drew to a close last Tuesday in Kigali, Rwanda with the historic meeting between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and DR Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi pledging commitment to support a new era of regional and bilateral cooperation to create new business opportunities that will transform the lives of all Africans.
The two countries have had frosty relations in recent years but in a historic 30-minute session moderated by the Africa Report’s Editor in Chief Patrick Smith, the two presidents addressed issues spoke about their commitments solve their differences and push for regional integration.
President Kagame mentioned that solving regional instability requires constant engagement with peers until mutually satisfying solutions are found. He noted the constant pledge made by DRC President to ensure it pushes reconciliation with neighbours with who they may not have had a good relationship.
“We have to believe in him. He has made a promise to his people and the region. We must support him,” said President Paul Kagame noting that Rwandan problems often end up affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo just as DRC’s problems often affect Rwanda, because of their geographic proximity.
In the past, militia groups operating in DR Congo’s vast territory have been a source of security threats to Rwanda often resulting in bilateral confrontations with previous governments in Kinshasa. But in what he calls ‘a new era of leadership’ President Tshisekedi has pledged to deal with the issue to pave way for better ties with regional neighbours including Rwanda.
“Our countries have and will always be neighbors. We, politicians, are simply passing actors. We must therefore exercise our leadership responsibilities to stop the senseless conflicts that only distract us from investing our resources in important partnerships that would transform our people and countries,” Tshisekedi said.
Issues discussed by the two leaders went beyond the future of bilateral ties between their two countries and whether long-lasting reconciliation is possible; they also discussed opportunities to collaborate on transformative projects such as investment in energy, mining and environmental protection.
Among those important partnerships, President Tshisekedi pointed out his country’s vast untapped energy resources which both DRC, Rwanda can partner to boost their energy generation capacities.
“We want to concentrate on what we have and share in common such as the gas reserves in Lake Kivu, electricity generation at Rusizi dam so that we have more power to spur private sector investment,” Tshisekedi said.
On the ongoing Uganda-Rwanda impasse that has seen restricted movements on Rwandans seeking to travel to Uganda, President Paul Kagame assured delegates of his own commitment to engaging with his regional counterpart until a meaningful solution to the problem is found.
“We need leaders of good politics, we must also have leaders who are willing to cooperate with each other to solve problems,” President Kagame said adding that leaders should aim to rise above their personal dislikes of each other to pursue issues that benefit their respective citizens such as integration.
Both leaders agreed that conflicts undermine and hinder the spirit of regional integration and that it is the responsibility of leaders to avoid or address those issues that lead to conflict.
Organised by the Jeune Afrique Media Group, the Africa CEO Forum began on Monday, March 25, 2019, and has been attended by 1800 business leaders, investors, and government actors from both Anglophone and Francophone Africa.
Seen as the continent’s most influential networking platform for private sector actors, delegates participated in over 40 discussion sessions themed around how Africa can move from multilateral trade treaties to actual business opportunities. Deals estimated at worth over US$1billion have also been sealed during the two-day summit.