President Paul Kagame and the RDB in Perth

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has told the Commonwealth Business Forum that public-private partnerships are crucial for the developing world.

President Kagame said in his address at the meeting of the 54 Commonwealth nations that the goals of business and governments are increasingly inseparable.

He said only business, trade and private sector investment have the potential to improve lives and create prosperity for all. He encouraged leaders of governments to let business leaders take a more central role in enhancing the public- private partnerships model.

I sometimes reckon that we political leaders should take a back seat and allow business leaders to be the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth creation. Governments’ focus should largely be to carry out necessary investment, business and trade-related reforms and generally create an environment that allows businesses to flourish.”

He pointed out that aid alone cannot effectively deliver better standards of living to the citizens of the developing world.

“We need to tap into the spirit of business enterprise and innovation that is so ubiquitous here, and harness the potential market of an estimated 1.2 billion people. We must optimise the opportunities that come with the diversity of the Commonwealth countries and fully leverage it to the benefit of our citizens,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in her keynote address that the Commonwealth was enthusiastically looking at opportunities in Africa and Asia as growing markets. "One day, perhaps we will talk of the African century,” she said, noting that Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is expected to grow at over twice the pace of the developed world.

The event includes investment showcases by various member nations, with deals worth at least USD10.5 billion reported to have been sealed on the sidelines of the business conference this week. The forum preceded the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which Queen Elizabeth II will formally open on Friday, attracting more than 1 400 delegates, including 16 heads of government.

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