Kampala- The Aga Khan has described Africa as a continent of opportunity and hope.
In a message delivered at the opening session of the Kusi Ideas Festival in Rwanda’s capital Kigali at the weekend, he said Africa’s strength has always been her resilience and innovation even amid challenges.
“The fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa - many of them projected to grow above 5 per cent per year. Here, there is also a growing youth population – an impressive 60 per cent of Africa’s population is under the age of 25 - a significantly higher proportion than in the West,” the Aga Khan, who is the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and chairperson of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), said.
He emphasised that Africa offers opportunities for employment and investment, as well as a new market for goods and services.
“The continent is also poised to provide a new market for goods and services at a time when the population in the West is diminishing. Imagine the opportunities for employment and investment in Africa,” the Aga Khan said.
Dr Azim Lakhani, AKDN Diplomatic Representative for Kenya, delivered the Aga Khan’s message to the gathering of more than 500 influential leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs and innovators from across Africa.
The Kusi Ideas Festival is a two-day, annual conference launched by the Nation Media Group as part of its 60th anniversary celebrations this year. Issues discussed at the conference included climate change, food security, human security, media and democracy, culture and sports as well as sustainable economies.
The festival was hosted by Rwanda President Paul Kagame and attended by DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamet, the chairperson of the African Union Commission; Mr Raila Odinga, the High Representative for Infrastructure Development at the African Union, and Dr Vera Songwe, the executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, among other leaders.
The Aga Khan reminded the leaders gathered at the Conference that they have a responsibility “to assist people and communities to construct strong, resilient foundations, to ensure sustainable progress and lasting, positive change and to support and lift the hopeful voices of the continent’s youth.”