EAC investment conference spurs optimism

Government and members of the business community are upbeat on Rwanda’s budding prospects as the East African Community (EAC) secretariat steps up preparations for the third EAC investment conference set for Kampala late this month.
L-R :  EAC Minister Monique Mukaruliza ;  Faustin Mbundu
L-R : EAC Minister Monique Mukaruliza ; Faustin Mbundu

Government and members of the business community are upbeat on Rwanda’s budding prospects as the East African Community (EAC) secretariat steps up preparations for the third EAC investment conference set for Kampala late this month.

The four-day event, scheduled to open April 27, is again expected to attract hundreds of participants and, Rwandan officials believe that aspects such as the country’s anti-corruption credentials provides a “big promise” for its future.

During a press conference held prior to the Kampala meeting, Munique Mukaruliza, the Minister for EAC affairs, said that the fact Rwanda is rated top reformer in doing business by the World Bank, is also another reason for attracting international investors.

“Putting things into context of where Rwanda is coming from, when you look at the speed and pace at which we are advancing, there is a big promise,” said Robert Ssali, the Permanent Secretary in the EAC Ministry.

This year’s conference will be held under the theme; “EAC Common Market: The preferred investment destination for expanded opportunities.”

The annual regional conference whose maiden meet was hosted in Rwanda, aims at marketing EAC as a single investment destination.

“Besides promoting investments for the region, it will be an opportunity for us to network with regional policymakers, see the issues in the region, and bring that information back and use it here,” said  Kaliza Karuretwa, the Director General in charge of investment climate and intellectual property at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM.

Faustin Mbundu Kananura, the chairman of the East African Business Council (EABC), shed some light on particular ideas obtained from the past two events.

“We learned about the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) that supports business developers in dealing with risks. Actually, the people at ATI are now saying that we don’t approach them enough,” noted Kananura.

ATI is a multilateral financial institution providing export credit insurance, political risk insurance, investment insurance and others to help reduce the costs of doing business in Africa.

The first and second EAC investment conferences were hosted by Rwanda and Kenya in 2008 and 2009 respectively and several key achievements have been made.

In the financial sector, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has since opened branches in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda while the China Africa Development Fund (CADF) is concluding negotiations to invest $5 billion in bankable projects in Africa.

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