On October 3, 2007 the first ever Europe-wide Rwanda Investment conference and exhibition will take place at the Royal Institute of British Architects in central London.
The event is organized by the Rwanda Diaspora Investment (RDI) UK Ltd, the Rwandan Embassy in London and the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA) and will be held under the theme, ‘Unveiling a New Rwanda to the World.’
The Expo, according to organizers is aimed among other things at bringing together the Rwandan business community and their European counterparts to exchange ideas, discuss mutual projects and build long-term business networks and partnerships.
It’s absolutely true that this exhibition is timely and it will give opportunity to Rwandan companies and agencies to promote their products beyond Rwanda’s borders.
The day will be used as a platform too by Rwandan business community to attract EU markets, and to promote Rwanda as a Foreign Direct Investment and tourist destination.
Many talked to have a general feeling that Rwanda has not been properly and effectively promoted or marketed in Europe in particular and other continents in general and as a result, there is little trade and business interaction between Rwanda and other developed economic countries.
A journalist from Canada said that despite being a person who is practising journalism and reads about Africa, says he knows little about Rwanda.
Many people in European countries still hold the view that Rwanda is a country ravaged by war and conflicts.
People out there are not aware for instance that Rwanda has progressed in education, gender equality and democratic governance or far-sighted leadership.
The world, for example, is not aware that 48 per cent of Rwanda’s parliament consists of women representatives while there is gender parity of students, and teachers in higher education.
This is not to mention other huge strides the country has made in achieving gender parity in the country’s judicial system, particularly in the Gacaca courts, which have evolved from traditional communal law enforcement procedures.
Many people who have visited Rwanda after the 1994 ugly Genocide have witnessed the positive and constructive developments going on in a new Rwanda, but this picture is not portrayed worldwide well.
Few people do not know that the country has adopted a zero tolerance policy to corruption, a disease that has destroyed most African countries.
Visitors here are ever impressed with the rising consciousness and concern by the Rwandan people on environmental upkeep, investments in green household energy, bio-fuels, and the revitalization in the education, health, community development and sports.
So, members of RDI must be supported by all means because they are committed in reversing that false image and present a new Rwanda as a land of opportunities, both for investors and tourists.
Information is vital and once it spreads wide, foreign investors will be interested in bringing their businesses here and help provide jobs to Rwandans.
Rwanda’s tourism sector has rich and beautiful attractions, including parks, with the famous Gorillas; Rwanda has a good climate too.
The country should be open for all to know that President Paul Kagame’s government is open, honest, business savvy and serious about fighting corruption.
Surely, holding such Expo regularly is crucial in the sense that it attracts high-profile political and corporate leaders from both Rwanda and the West to interact and share what two people from a different business climate background have in the store for each other.
The RDI company secretary, Ignatius Mugabo says the expo will be dedicated to explaining Rwanda’s investment climate and opportunities to EU investors, through speeches and presentations by corporate and government leaders.
This is very close to the truth because London is one the undisputed deal-making centres and financial capitals of the world and there is a lot of capital here looking for an investment exit to emerging markets.
The expo will be used to explain Rwanda as one of the best and well-managed emerging markets in African societies.
So, when Mugabo says we are determined to completely reverse our country’s image here as a war-ravaged country, ethnically divided and an object of charity, to a country ready and capable to conducting serious business with the rest of the world, it makes a lot of sense.