KIGALI - The essence of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to be signed today between Rwanda and the US will enable mutual protection of investors from both countries, the State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion, Vincent Karega, has said.
The treaty, the first to be signed by the US in sub-Sahara Africa in a decade, will be inked today by President Paul Kagame and his US counterpart George W. Bush. The US President
arrives in Rwanda today on the third stop of his five-nation six-day African tour.
Bush, who jets in from the neighbouring Tanzania where he signed a landmark $698 million aid deal, said last week that the planned Rwanda-US investment deal “reflects our shared commitment to systems of fair and open investment. It will bring more capital to Rwanda’s dynamic and growing economy.”
Karega said the agreement involves no financial commitments although that might come separately.
“It (the agreement) creates mutual trust and mutual confidence,” he observed.
According to the Deputy Director General of Rwanda Investment and Export promotion Agency (Riepa), Claire Akamanzi, the BIT has “provisions on the protection and encouragement of investors from either country”. “It puts in place rules and regulations to govern this equitable partnership,” she said.
Rwanda, in earnest quest to build her economy, hopes that the agreement will encourage more American investors to make Rwanda a preferred investment destination, since it offers a favourable working environment. “We are actually saying ‘come, here’s our commitment’,” Akamanzi observed.
She said that in the past years, the country has received American investors who mostly come to do charity work but not business. “They have mainly been coming as philanthropists or social investors, but not as profit-oriented businesspeople.
We need more of profit-oriented American investors to come in,” Akamanzi explained.
The development comes at a time when President Bush seems to re-focus his country’s commitments in Africa, from aid to investment.
Rwandan officials have on several occasions suggested that more capital inflows in developing countries are more rewarding in the long-run than the short-term often conditional financial handouts.
Rwanda already has such investment treaties with Mauritius, Germany and Belgium.
Bush, who is accompanied by his wife, Laura, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, among others, leaves Rwanda later today for Ghana and then Liberia, as he winds up his second presidential tour of Africa, just eleven months before the end of his presidency.