The incoming Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has been tasked to build on her experience to maintain the good work of the country’s development promotion agency.
Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, a former deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was sworn in yesterday in Parliament, officially taking over responsibilities to lead the country’s arm for promoting investment and development.
The five-year old body is a merger of several government agencies, including former institutions of the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA), the Rwandan Office for Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), and the Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA).
President Paul Kagame said that Amb. Rugwabiza who was in charge of development issues such as trade policy review, trade facilitation, training and technical cooperation at the WTO must have learned a lot that can be helpful for Rwanda.
“If we continue to join our strengths we will continue to achieve more for the benefit of every Rwandan,” Kagame said in a speech while officiating the swearing-in ceremony for the new CEO.
Rugwabiza is also a former envoy of Rwanda to the United Nations and has served in senior managerial positions in the private sector in the country and abroad.
Over the last five years, government has made radical reforms which have made it easier for businesses to open and operate in the country, get access to credit, and pay their taxes.
The country’s ratings in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report’ have significantly improved, with the World Bank’s 2012 Doing Business report reflecting that Rwanda is the 3rd easiest country to do business in Africa after Mauritius and South Africa.
The RDB is expected to ensure that the country moves in that same direction.
Kagame said that appointing Amb. Rugwabiza to RDB was in line with making sure that the body continues to do a good job for the country.
Investments in various areas such as construction, mining, information and communication technology (ICT), tourism, banking and insurance have kept economic growth moving forward.
The new CEO has committed to use her expertise to further boost investments and ensure that current investors stay in Rwanda.
“It’s pretty clear to me on the face of it that we have been very successful in Rwanda in putting in place a very conducive environment for business. We need now to leverage that conducive environment and translate it into more exports and additional investments for the development of Rwandans,” she told journalists shortly after taking her oath of office yesterday.
She mentioned skills gaps and an economy that is not diversified enough among some of the challenges that will be particularly tackled to attract and keep investors in Rwanda.
Amb. Rugwabiza has also been appointed a member of the Cabinet in a move that President Kagame and staff at the RDB said will make the body’s work more efficient because it presents an opportunity for the CEO to interact directly with ministers.
“RDB works with all the ministers and being in Cabinet will help the body to operate faster because consultations with all the ministers will be easier,” said Clare Akamanzi who has been acting CEO for RDB and is now the body’s Chief Operations Officer.
Rwanda is targeting $1.3 billion in 2013 in both local and foreign investments, mostly from financial services, logistics and lightweight manufacturing.
That will be up from the total US$1.1 billion value of new investments the country attracted last year and way higher up from the $626 million attracted in 2011.