President Paul Kagame has said there should be penalties imposed on public institutions that delay to implement critical projects if Africa needs to catch up with the rest of the world.
The president who was speaking at the opening of the Global African Investment Summit in Kigali on Monday said that most projects within the regional integration are delaying due to failure to respect deadlines.
“Perhaps there should even be a financial penalty of some kind when deadlines are not met by public sector institutions,” the president told over 1,000 government officials, international investors and members of private sector.
“Whatever the amount, it would certainly be much less than what we pay now by assuming that the price of time is free,” he warned.
The president says the delay in different projects mainly the implementation of the Free Trade Tripartite Area, “is not caused by a lack of knowledge, commitment, or resources, but rather by failing to appreciate that speed is a driver of wealth creation.
“If we in Africa start to value time even more highly than our friends and competitors then the gap between ourselves and the rest of the world will start to close rapidly. This summit’s special focus on integration is very important in this regard,” he added.
The 3rd global summit and the first to be held on Africa continent aims at harnessing ‘The Tripartite Free Trade Area’, attracting more investment and private sector to bolster physical infrastructure as well as facilitating free movement of goods and persons.
The strong voice for faster implementation of the tripartite agreement comes at the time when 17 countries have already signed the agreement ahead of the deadline of 2017.
“It is not too much to say that the habit of tolerating endless delay is one of the major causes of poverty,” president Kagame said.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) was established to encourage free trade and includes a collaboration of three regional economic communities (RECs),including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).
The president said that for the integration to be achieved there is a need to shift from paperwork to action which he says is the only way to bolster the continent’s growth.
“We know it, we believe in it. What remains is just to be doing what is necessary to make it a reality. Let us work to address outstanding issues so that the tripartite agreement can come into force as soon as possible.”
“Africa cannot just remain a story about huge potential that never materialises,” Kagame added.
President Museveni of Uganda noted that despite the delays in the implementation of the free trade area, the region provides huge potential for investors as governments are working towards creating a conducive environment.
“Investors can come in and they will make the work easier, they can invest in energy, value addition, railways and human development, hospital and African middle class which is expanding will buy their products,” he said.
The tripartite that brings together 26 countries of 600 million people into one open market is banked on by member states to attract investment while also boosting intra trade.
The tripartite was launched by heads of states in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt in June last year.
The region recorded Foreign Direct Investment worth U$ 16 billion in 2014 lower compared to the total global flow worth U$1.23 trillion in the same year.