Yuan Jiajun, the Governor of China’s Zhejiang Province alongside a 57-person business delegation arrived in Kigali Saturday to take part in a China - Rwanda business forum.
Zhejiang is located on the eastern coast of China and its capital, and the largest city is Hangzhou.
Jiajun, an aerospace engineer and politician, is accompanied by Chinese government officials and members of the Zhejiang private sector to further economic and educational ties.
According to the Rwanda Development Board, the China–Rwanda business forum was an opportunity to showcase business opportunities in Rwanda and Zhejiang, existing partnerships, as well as act as a platform for networking and business engagement between the respective private sectors.
“Governor Yuan and your delegation, we are very delighted to have you visit Rwanda to discover this beautiful country for yourself, and the many remarkable opportunities we have,” Clare Akamanzi, the RDB Chief Executive Officer, said while welcoming the visiting party.
“Rwanda and the province of Zhejiang already enjoy a good relationship and with your visit today, Mr. Governor, the relationship will become excellent from good.”
Akamanzi noted that Zhejiang has supported several initiatives in the TVET and digital economy sectors.
The Chinese Polytechnic in Zhejiang Province, she noted, supported the expansion of Musanze Polytechnic (IPRC) and provided equipment to enhance practical teaching at the college.
“The Jinhua Polytechnic has also been providing scholarships to Rwandan students since 2014 to train in Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Technology, Communication Network and Equipment, as well as Hospitality Management.”
So far, she said, 42 Rwandans have graduated from Jinhua Polytechnic, and 53 are currently enrolled there.
“And following the launch of the e-WTP (electronic-World Trade Portal) program in Rwanda, Zhejiang Province pledged to fund 20 young Rwandans to study a 4-year Undergraduate degree in e-Commerce at the Alibaba Business School in China.”
“This program is scheduled to start in September 2019. 20 students have been selected for the program and are currently in the process of applying for visas. A lot more of collaboration is underway.”
Due to the country’s ever-improving business climate including investment incentives, an increasing number of foreign businesses are turning their eyes to Rwanda. Among others, Rwanda is ranked by the World Bank as second in Africa and 29th in the world in the Ease of Doing Business.
In the last five years, more than 50 Chinese enterprises - operating in light manufacturing, agro-processing, construction and mining – registered in Rwanda with an investment value of $250million.
“Like in Zhejiang, there are several avenues for investment in various sectors – from opportunities in ICT (software development, device manufacturing); Manufacturing (construction materials, light manufacturing, textiles, pharmaceuticals); to Energy, Infrastructure, Tourism, and Agriculture, to name but a few.”
According to the RDB, Zhejiang Province is strongly established in several economic sectors that are aligned with Rwanda’s economic transformation aspirations.
Consequently, the visit presents a valuable opportunity to forge strategic partnerships while helping to encourage investment between Rwanda and China.
Besides Zhejiang’s support to several initiatives in the TVET and digital economy sectors in Rwanda, since 2009, the Department of Science and Technology of the Province through the China National Bamboo Research Center of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration supported the implementation of a bamboo project.
The project aims at providing capacity building on bamboo cultivation, processing and utilization of technology, and was organized by and sponsored by Zhejiang Province.
The project has trained more than 1,400 students in the past 10 years who have gone on to establish bamboo processing companies, some of which are export firms.
Rwanda–Alibaba electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) partnership is another noteworthy development.
Under the framework of the e-WTP launched last year, more than 40 Rwandan entrepreneurs received training from Alibaba Business School.
Among them, 10 digital platform builders graduated from the eFounders Fellowship, a joint program with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and 30 ecosystem enablers, including traditional business owners as well as start-up entrepreneurs, attended the Alibaba Netpreneur Training.
Besides that, Alibaba Business School’s New Economy Workshop hosted 12 Rwandan government delegates from different ministries and departments.
At a business level, Alibaba also helps local Rwandan small businesses to leverage its ecosystem and get connected to the 700 plus million Chinese consumers on the platform while bypassing costly intermediaries.
So far, the sales volume of Rwandan coffee increased by 700 percent on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border Business-To-Consumer (B2C) platform.
In due course, more cooperation is expected to be announced between Rwanda and Alibaba under the eWTP.