Kusi Ideas Festival kicks off in Botswana

The fifth edition of the KUSI Ideas Festival has kicked off with rallying calls for African leaders to be innovative, resilient and committed to the continent’s strategic 2063 development agenda.

Currently ongoing in Gaborone, Botswana, the Festival has brought together hundreds of dignitaries across the continent, including Heads of State, captains of industry, policymakers, entrepreneurs, influencers in the new digital space, and students in tertiary institutions of learning. The two-day conference will see the delegates, both attending virtually and physically generate several ideas offering solutions and innovations to tackle challenges facing Africa.

Giving his opening remarks at the event, Botswana’s President, Mokgweetsi Masisi equated the Festival to a stock exchange where people meet to exchange ideas which are not only tradeable but also provide policies where they will be commoditised and monetized for the good of Africa.

This annual occasion, President Masisi said, gave crucial stakeholders a checkpoint to gauge their level of commitment to the transformative development plan for the continent thus enhancing the capacity and efficiency in attaining the Agenda 2063 goals.

“We are fully persuaded that this event has a unique offering of transformative and intentional conversations by thought-leaders from across the continent to interrogate the various aspects and facets of our collective vision,” he said.

The deliberations at the Festival, President Masisi said, would bring out some pointers of strategic direction to be considered by governments, civil sectors, civil society organisations, investors and partner institutions towards fulfilling the African aspirations. Crucial to the attainment of the desired goals, will be a united Africa, moving with a unified purpose and progressively synergise its efforts of integration in conducting trade.

“It is our chance to reflect on the opportunities, the challenges and setbacks concerning Africa’s blueprint of development. Without equivocation, we are all energized by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came into force in 2021 and we must forge ahead with fortitude,” he said.

The Botswana Head of State cautioned against the misleading thought that 2063 is still far saying it is only a mere 40 years, just one generation away.

“Many of the young people here will be occupying leadership positions and it is for this reason this event provides a centre stage for young people to chart the future that they want,” he said.

 

 

Key among the issues to be discussed in this year’s occurrence include the creation of a prosperous Africa, one that is integrated and guided with the ideals of Africanism, a functioning free trade area, respect of law and human rights to promote good governance and democracy as well as a peaceful Africa supported by the AU’s missions to silence the guns in troubled regions.

“We must remember our aspiration to be a continent with a strong cultural heritage, common heritage, value and ethics and growing global influence of its cultural productions. An Africa whose development is people driven, particularly by its women and youth with care and protection we must all give our children,” he said.

On his part, Nation Media Group’s chairperson, Dr Wilfred Kiboro, the co-host of the conference, challenged Africans to stop short-changing themselves and unyoke themselves from the thoughts that they do not have what it takes to create a prosperous continent.

He wondered why many people in Europe, some parts of Asia and the Americas still thought of Africa as a country, not knowing it has several nations,  which he said was a clear indicator that Africa had not marketed itself as it should in the global space.

Dr Kiboro also said it was time for Africa to take responsibility for its development and stop looking back to the dark times of colonialism where many atrocities were meted out to Africans by the powers that ruled them.

“I believe we cannot continue to blame our colonial masters for the ills facing Africa. I believe we have the capacity to confront all the challenges that we face head on and deal with them,”

“One of the biggest things I would love us to discuss in this conference is how we can decolonize the African mindset to believe in themselves and in the possibility, that we do have the answers to African problems,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa urged African leaders to be unified with a common purpose of serving their citizens and not pleasing the leaders of developed countries.

“As Africans, we need to speak with one voice. It is important that our current leaders not take glory by being marked as good leaders from the North. We must be identified as good leaders by our own people,” he said.

For Edouard Ngirente, Rwanda’s Prime Minister, the talks about development and growth must involve citizens who are often only issued with directives but not given a chance to participate in the process of attaining development.

“We always talk about inclusive planning because before we achieve our results, we need to plan properly and make sure everyone in the country is involved,” he said.

The time for Africa to stop skirting around serious global issues on account of its non-developmental status must come to an end, said Botho Bayendi, AU Commission, Director of Strategic Planning and Delivery

“We want Africa to be an integrated, prosperous and peaceful, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. Every African should know that this is their agenda…we want to rebrand, to be known as the prosperous Africa,” she said.

She noted that the first decade of the 2063 agenda has been a little sluggish with the execution of the intended plans but however commended the steps made to integrate the continent, particularly in matters trade through AfCFTA.

Tanzania’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Energy said Africa, endowed with immense natural resources, must harness its free gifts from nature and generate enough energy to power its economy to a global scale.

Issues of security, peace and stability in Africa were also addressed with leaders present noting with concern the unprecedented number of coups, extremism and conflicts peppering different countries in Africa.

“I would like to hope it is a bump, because the moral imperative, the economic essentiality and political hunger to attain the ideals of 2063 could never be allowed to make our want of it, wilt or wither,” President Masisi said.

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