Promoting exports should be the country’s top priority

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in the country this week leading a delegation of French investors.

The French business delegation is the largest to visit Rwanda in a very long time and hopefully any investment opportunities will help mend fences between the two countries.  There are many business opportunities across the country; in manufacturing, new technologies, energy, mining and infrastructure development, to name but a few.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has been at the forefront of attracting foreign direct investments and it has done so with a sense of purpose; removing unnecessary hurdles and bringing all services needed by investors under one roof.

There has been a continuous flow of potential investors at RDB’s offices and many have set up shop in Rwanda because of the conducive business environment. Many target the export market, a practice Rwandan traders would do well to emulate.

Many of our business leaders are more into the import business, thereby not doing much to reduce the trade deficit that is always in favour of imports. That state of affairs could be overturned if the same vigour put in attracting investors could be put in empowering potential exporters.

Yes, the Trade ministry and the National Agriculture Export Development Board have been doing their bit in promoting exports, but the same cannot be said of local leaders at the district or provincial levels. Introducing export incentives and some level of local tax exemptions could help do the trick.