Rwanda is ready for business, Musoni tells Chinese investors

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Kitabi Tea Factory employees weigh green tea leaves. Rwanda exports tea to China. / File.

Infrastructure Minister James Musoni has called on Chinese entrepreneurs to take advantage of Rwanda’s supportive policies and conducive business environment to come and invest in the country, saying “Rwanda is open for business”.

“Rwanda is open for everyone to bring their money in the country and do business, enjoying our conducive business environment and supportive policies. So, use this investment forum to interact and discuss investment opportunities in the different sectors of the Rwandan economy,” he said.

He was launching the inaugural Rwanda–China Investment Forum in Beijing, China last week.

The one-day forum at Rwanda’s embassy in Beijing, was attended by 50 Chinese firms and a delegation from Rwanda. It aimed at showcasing investment opportunities in Rwanda that Chinese investors can exploit.

Musoni hailed the ties between Rwanda and China, saying it has opened trade and investment opportunities for citizens in both countries.

Huang Zhao Jin, the chairman of the China-Asia Economic Development Association Overseas Co-operation Committee, lauded the China-Rwanda investment forum initiative, saying it is essential to facilitate trade and investment in both countries. Huang, however, called for clear policies and guidelines to guide firms interested in investing in Rwanda.

Speaking at the event, Emmanuel Hategeka, the Rwanda Development Board, chief operating officer, said Chinese businesses can invest in many sectors of the economy, including tourism, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and ICT, among others. There are already Chinese investments in Rwanda in areas of agriculture, industry, power, health, culture and tourism.

He told the Chinese that investors in Rwanda benefit from the bigger East African Community (EAC) market of over 169.5 million people.

“Investing in Rwanda opens the door to the bigger EAC market of over 169.5 million people, as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) of 400 million people, where you can export duty free and quota free,” he said.

Hategeka said Rwanda is rated one of the most efficient governments in Africa in both doing business and security. Besides, the government will always work together with Chinese officials and investors to ensure a win–win situation in trade and investment co-operation, he added.

Rwanda ranked second in the ease of doing business on the continent behind Mauritius in the World Bank doing business report released in October, 2016.

While addressing participants, Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) chairman Benjamin Gasamagera, said the body and government were ready to facilitate the Chinese interested in opening businesses in the country.

China-EAC trade

Hategeka said China exported products worth $9 billion in 2015 compared to $1.4 billion from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Items from China included mobile telephones and other electronic products, garments and vehicles.

China is one of Rwanda’s traditional markets, where it exports tea, minerals, pepper (Akabanga) and pyrethrum, among others. Rwanda benefits from a duty-free treatment of 95 per cent for its products in the Chinese market.

Sino-Africa

China has become Africa’s largest trading partner, exchanging more than $200 billion worth of goods with the continent annually.

During the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in December 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a three-year $60 billion aid to Africa, including a $5 billion package in grants and zero interest loans for African countries.