President Paul Kagame has invited Japanese firms to invest in Rwanda saying that the country is open to different modalities and types of investment.
Kagame was speaking at the Rwanda-Japan Business Forum in Tokyo, Japan on the second day of his official visit to the Asian country.
“I want to assure you that the Government of Rwanda will continue to do our best, to provide a conducive and supportive environment for successful ventures,” he told the Japanese business community.
“The areas in our case have been identified: tourism, agriculture and infrastructure. We will not be discriminating as to how and when we pay attention to the kinds of investments. We want to benefit and we want those making investments with us to benefit as well,” the Head of State added.
The President called on investors not to be deterred by challenges such as Rwanda being land-locked, saying that there are opportunities therein through the application of knowledge and innovation.
“We can turn these seemingly huge challenges into an opportunity and therefore through doing business, innovation and technologies we will be able to address all that,” he said.
Among the investment opportunities showcased to the investors include the Kigali Innovation City, which is a flagship programme for Rwanda’s vision for a knowledge and innovation-based economy.
Kagame welcomed the Japanese investors saying that they would make ideal partners as they have adequate experience matching national ambitions.
“We are keen to attract Japanese firms as partners in this endeavour (Kigali Innovation City). They have the experience that matches our ambitions,” he said.
Elaborating Rwanda’s philosophy in enterprise and business, Kagame said that the country measures quality businesses beyond profits to ensure there is impact on the development of the citizen’s lives.
“Whatever we do in our country, we are focusing primarily on improving lives using our talent and potential. We are thinking about how, together with those who invest in our country, we can invest reasonably, move fast, and change lives but also earn profits.”
“The question is always going to be how fast can we go? And why not as fast as we can do it? The story doesn’t have to last for another 50 years before we get to where we want to be,” he said.
Kagame also made a case for investment into the African continent saying that the bloc was working on eradicating borders as a hindrance to trade.
“Africa’s middle class is increasing year in, year out; there is increasing urbanisation in Africa moving faster than probably other continents. Africa has different kinds of resources starting with our own people and the natural resources that we have,” he said of existing opportunities.
He said that the partnership with Japan can serve to enable the African continent to add value to its raw materials which have often been unjustly exploited.
“Africa cannot just be a source of raw things, in fact we have become even a source of raw people. We need to add value. We can do that with partnerships we can forge between Africa and Japan, Rwanda and Japan but we have to always be guided by this understanding,” he added.
President Kagame is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and a delegation of senior government and private sector officials.
On the sidelines of the forum, Rwanda’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana signed a grant agreement for water distribution under a Kigali city project.
During his visit, Kagame held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during which the two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.
The two countries also signed a grant aid project to improve water supply in Kigali; the Nzove-Ntora Water Principal Pipeline.
Japan is a key development partner for Rwanda with a presence in sectors such as education, ICT, infrastructure and urbanisation, among others.