The seventh edition of the Africa CEO Forum came to a close yesterday evening, and a session involving President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi has become the highlight of the forum.

The two-day annual pan-African event brought together both private sector stakeholders on the continent and representatives of African governments hoping for investment. Deals worth more than $1 billion were signed between the private sector and various African governments represented at the event.

In many ways, the forum presented new opportunities for Tshisekedi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though Tshisekedi’s win at the presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in January was mired in controversy, many of his fellow countrymen, including businessmen present at the forum, have expressed their satisfaction in witnessing the first peaceful transition of power in the country.

DRC shares some of its borders with Rwanda, and the forum became the host for a new wave of bilateral relations between both countries, and investment pitch for DRC to private investors. The presidents of both countries committed to a new era of regional and bilateral cooperation to create new business opportunities that will transform the lives of all Africans.

In the final session of the forum, which was moderated by Patrick Smith, the Editor in Chief of the Africa Report, both presidents spoke on issues that have plagued both countries for decades; most of which have been due to insecurity on their borders and illegal cross-border trade.

For Tshisekedi and Kagame, there was a need to rewrite the terms of the relationship between their countries; Kagame wouldn’t have to deal with the ex-DRC president Joseph Kabila again but instead begin on a clean slate with Tshisekedi, while the latter would be much eager to begin his administration on a good footing with his closest neighbour.

Hence, both presidents promised to explore opportunities on transformative projects such as investment in energy, mining and environmental protection.

Kagame appealed for constant engagement between both countries, with Tshisekedi also agreeing, promising the people of DRC a new era of politics that will seek to bury political differences and instead leverage on economic opportunities.

“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 Democractic Republic of Congo just as DRC’s problems often affect Rwanda, because of their geographic proximity.

A constant source of misunderstanding between both countries has always been security threats posed by militia groups operating in the DRC, who also end up taking their fighting across the border into the Rwanda, and into other neighbouring countries. Tshisekedi promised to deal with the issue to pave way for better bilateral ties between both countries.

“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.

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 concluded.

This session from the Africa CEO Forum helped to prove one thing; that African governments now acknowledge that peace and security is essential for investor confidence in their countries.

Organised by the Jeune Afrique Media Group, the Africa CEO Forum begun 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 multi-lateral trade treaties to actual business opportunities.

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