President Paul Kagame has told young African entrepreneurs to be more more daring in pursuit for their goals, reminding them that being born on the African continent or from a small country should not stand in their way of achieving their ambitions.
The Head of State made the call while officially opening the Norrsken Africa Week, which is bringing together more than 1,200 entrepreneurs and innovators from across the continent. He pointed out that it is high time the African continent is seen as an investment destination it is rather than perceiving it as a risky place to do business.
President Kagame demystified the presumed risk of doing business in Africa, stating that investing in Africa is an opportunity just like it is in any other part of the world, because the continent is rich with brains and other gifts as other parts of the world.
“I’ve never understood why there should be a particular geographical place where everything is to be underestimated or underrated and therefore the investors need to bear that in their minds that Africa has everything the rest of the world has, even more,”
“But when it comes to people, I think we should consider ourselves as equal with any other people anywhere in the world,” President Kagame said, urging young people to think big, outside the said limitations.
President Kagame said the continent has other resources, other than the people, which can be tapped into for Africa to grow and connect with the rest of the world and this won’t just benefit the continent only but also the world at large.
“Investors need to just not look at Africa as a big Market which it is but also a thriving people or society, that to a great extent will match or even supersede what exists elsewhere in the world,” President Kagame said when asked why investors should consider Africa.
He said that Africa is also a profitable place to invest, something which investors consider, emphasizing that putting money on the African continent is a guarantee to grow and expand.
Zeroing down on Rwanda, President Kagame said the country has deliberately positioned itself as a favourable destination for investment by creating the environment that not only enables Rwandans to start out but also Africans and people from other parts of the world to come and do business in Rwanda.
“That thinking therefore provides for an environment that lowers the risk anybody would face when they have taken chance with us and believed in us that we can do things like that and do as expected, in terms of holding each other’s hand and moving forward,” he said.
The Norrsken Africa Week is considered the continent’s biggest technology and impact event, hosted at the Norrsken East Africa campus, Africa’s biggest hub for technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
The week has drawn in a myriad of industry captains, including global investors, business and government delegates, and leading technology ecosystem stakeholders across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Funding to African startups declined to $1 billion during the first half of 2023, contrasting with $1.5 billion in the second half of 2022 and $1.8 billion in the first half of 2022. The world of finance may be cyclical, but the trusted relationships that sustain innovation and unlock capital, do not need to be cyclical.
Norrsken Africa Week is designed to function as a bridge facilitating connections between capital allocators and
innovators in Africa.
Pascal Murasira, Managing Director of Norrsken East Africa said that the Norrsken Africa Week will go a long way in building Africa’s budding ecosystem and will serve as a major platforms for African innovations to mobilise funds. The week feeds into the work the hub, which is home to more than 1,200 entrepreneurs, is already doing.
“Bringing global investors, African venture capital firms and Limited Partners together to facilitate meaningful connections between African founders, global business leaders, public officials and regulators is exactly why Norrsken House Kigali exists,”
“We’re proud not just to be the home of innovation, but also function as a clearing house for investors, talent, and innovators in Africa,” Murasira said, pointing out that initiatives like this and an enabling environment, similar to what Rwanda is doing, will unlock the potential of the continent’s very best of innovations.
Founded in 2016, the Norrsken ecosystem is a global non-profit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs solve the world’s greatest challenges. Africa’s technology and innovation landscape has always taken on some of the continent’s biggest challenges, and a string of success stories have further highlighted the continent’s potential.
It has also attracted the attention of global investment firms to the dynamic local innovation ecosystems across the continent. Built on the former historic Ecole Belge in downtown Kigali, the Norrsken House Kigali campus is a vibrant community of more than 1000 entrepreneurs, startup teams, and businesses building solutions and services that take on Africa’s biggest challenges.