Members of Parliament yesterday kicked off their ordinary sessions by approving a bilateral investment treaty between Rwanda and Qatar.
The move seals last year’s bilateral agreements on accelerating economic cooperation between the two nations, which was signed by President Paul Kagame and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar.
Rwanda is already in talks with potential investors from Qatar who have expressed keen interest in investing in coffee, education and agriculture among other areas, according to Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
While briefing lawmakers yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of RDB, Clare Akamanzi, said that the treaties will boost the confidence of potential investors from Qatar.
The agreements that were signed between the two nations cover air services business, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments and a memorandum of understanding on economic, commercial as well as technical cooperation.
“Investors don’t just invest. They have a checklist, they look at the labour force, infrastructure, laws and many other things before they can put their money into something. One thing that is consistent on these checklists is the investment treaty between their country and Rwanda because it comes with benefits,” Akamanzi said.
MP Pierre Claver Rwaka questioned whether such agreements with economic giants won’t benefit these countries more than Rwandans.
“I support this treaty but I can’t help but wonder whether these more economically advanced countries don’t reap more from the agreement than us whose economy is trying to grow,” he said.
To this, Akamanzi said that there was need to be realistic with what Rwanda expected since the economies of the two countries cannot be compared.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone. Obviously, when they invest in Rwanda they are making a profit but we are also getting a service we didn’t have before, our people are getting jobs, we are benefitting from their new technology, and much more,” he said.
MP Theoneste Begumisa Safari wondered how Rwandans interested in Qatar would benefit from the agreement.
“It would be great to know that the way Qatar investors are treated here is the way our people are treated when they travel there,” he said.
Qatar and Rwanda already share economic ties through civil aviation, with Qatar Airways, the Gulf State’s flag carrier, operating direct flights to Rwanda since 2012.