KIGALI – The 2022 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF 2022) commenced in Kigali on Tuesday, with participants deliberating on key global issues and the role of the Commonwealth in leading a global reset as the world emerges from the pandemic.
President Paul Kagame was joined by the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Edward Davis, Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Makhtor Diop, Managing Director and Executive Vice President of the World Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Lord Marland, Chair of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), among other dignitaries, at the opening ceremony at the Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV) in Kigali.
Over 1,500 delegates from Commonwealth member states are attending the forum, mainly government leaders, business executives, leaders of global and regional development institutions, young entrepreneurs and representatives of trade and investment organisations.
Speaking during the opening session, Scotland noted: “When I took office as Secretary-General in 2016, I outlined my vision to put the ‘wealth’ back into the Commonwealth; and to put the ‘common’ back into wealth so that we all share in our future prosperity. At the heart of our mission is trade – the lifeblood of economic activity and the arteries of the economic relationships between our Commonwealth member countries. The Commonwealth Advantage. I hope CBF 2022 provides us with the opportunity to come even closer together and redouble our commitment to enhance the framework for intra-Commonwealth trade – and set the target to reach US$ 2 trillion in CommonwealthTrade by 2030 beyond doubt.”
On his part, Lord Marland said: “For three days, we will talk about enterprise and investment because through these, we have prosperity, growth and lifting people out of poverty, and these are going to be absolutely critical in the post COVID era.”
After the opening ceremony, President Kagame participated in a Fireside Chat together with Makhtar Diop, Managing Director of the International Finance Corporation, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, Dr Andrew Forrest, Chairman of Fortescue Future Industries and Amali Chivanthi de Alwis, Chief Executive Officer of Subak.
In his remarks, Kagame noted: “There is already the understanding that we must work for a common future. We have to work towards that, and make sure we get it. It’s a work in progress, and we’re moving towards it – and I am optimistic. We must ensure nobody is left behind – such as small and developing nations – and uplift everyone to move towards and fulfil that obligation to the ‘common-ness’ we aspire to in this family of nations.”
The day featured delegates attending session plenaries, think tanks, and breakouts to explore challenges and discuss ideas to propose pathways towards practical outcomes.
Kagame also toured the CBF 2022 Exhibition in which companies and organisations from across the Commonwealth member countries are showcasing their products and services.
More sessions are scheduled to take place during the three-day forum. Members of Government and the private sector from all Commonwealth countries seek to address key global challenges and opportunities, learn from each other’s experiences, find practical solutions and generate high-level policy recommendations that will set the agenda for Rwanda’s two years as Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth.