At the recently concluded African Now Summit, Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni called on the continent to ‘act right’ in order to ensure prosperity of Africans.
The President, who was co-chair of the Summit that was organised by the Africa Strategic Leadership Centre, was making a justification for the opening of trade borders on the continent.
Museveni, who is an ardent Pan-Africanist and proponent of integration for the sake of one common market across the continent, argued that countries in Africa need to address prosperity by opening the trade areas to allow production and sale of goods and services across borders.
He noted that countries need each other, producing countries need others that will consume their products.
The Summit was attended by over 1,000 delegates from across the continent. The President on his part hosted among others, the President of Somalia Mohammad Abdulahi Mohammad, the deputy president of Kenya, Dr William Ruto, the vice president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, and Egypt’s trade minister, Amr Nassar, who represented president El Sisi.
Key among the objectives the inaugural Africa Now Summit was to address the strategic bottlenecks that hinder development and economic transformation of the continent.
It cannot be emphasised enough that this conversation was made possible by the coming together of the private sector, who convened by a private think tank, mobilised for the summit to happen.
When we as, a think tank approached President Museveni with the idea of the Summit, he was elated and offered his advice as well as support.
The President contributed to hosting the venue at the Commonwealth Resort and Conference Centre in Munyonyo. He also, throughout the preparations gave us guidance on the best foot forward to make the two days a success. For this we cannot be thankful enough.
During the summit, I expressed my gratitude to the visiting heads of state and called on them to continue supporting us whenever we run to them. I also appealed to African leaders to embrace private sector-led growth since this will propel the transformation of our continent.
The summit was also graced by the presence of political leaders, heads of government institutions and multinational agencies. The presence of heads of various government agencies and departments cannot go without mention because all these lent immeasurable credence to the summit.
Like it is in a song, the chorus of my appreciation will go to the private sector, who not only embraced the summit by supporting and sponsorship, but went a notch higher, turning up in mammoth numbers and staying around for the entire duration of the summit.
What is even more overwhelming is that leaders of business power houses did not delegate but chose to give up all their demanding responsibility to be part of this conversation.
By now, it is an indisputable fact that the future of Africa is the youth. Any conversation that is tailored to address where we want to go as a continent cannot go on without the contribution of the youth. It was, therefore, gratifying to see the youth in big numbers at the summit.
Students from Makerere University, Nkumba University, Makerere University Business school were joined by youth entrepreneurs, opinion leaders, youth leaders and politicians to give a youth voice at the Summit. Their voice was heard loud and clear as a lot of the conversation during the summit involved or better still was dominated by the youth.
Billionaire Tony Elumelu, the chairman of United Bank of Africa (UBA), also a philanthropist and a mentor of youth entrepreneurs was one of the major highlights of the summit.
Elumelu, who pundits have positioned among the top 10 richest Africans inspired many to attend the conference.
He did not disappoint when he took to the podium to give his keynote address on the leadership needed to catalyse Africa’s transformation. Placing the continent of Africa in current perspective, Elumelu stated that the leadership needed was the all-encompassing leadership.
He told the audience that leadership is not just about the public sector, not just about presidents, not just about state governors or provisional leaders. But rather includes people in the private sector in the civil society, in churches, traditional leaders. As organisers of the summit, we couldn’t agree more.
Fellow billionaire Strive Masiyiwa on his part gave a heartfelt appreciation of the Summit venue the Commonwealth Resort and Conference Centre, which he endorsed as the conference facility of Africa, calling it the Davos of Africa and promised to always attending once invited.
This endorsement, coming from a person of Masiyiwa’s standing goes far in confirming the huge success of the Summit.
We at the Africa Strategic Leadership Centre remain committed to carrying out research that will lead to influencing policy when we hold such engagements in the future.
Again our gratitude goes out to our partners, the Government of Uganda, the President, the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Cabinet ministers and ministers from across Africa, the private sector and to all delegates that graced the Summit.
For God and for Africa
Dr Rukari is the convener of the Africa Now Summit and chairman of the NRM Entrepreneurs league
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