President Paul Kagame has urged British investors to turn their attention to East Africa, citing the sound foundation that has been built to enable economic growth.
Speaking to more than 400 business leaders at the Rwanda-UK Business Forum in London, yesterday, Kagame said that the two countries should tap the good relationship they share to drive fruitful and longstanding investment ambitions.
“We in Rwanda have worked hard to establish security and political stability. This has allowed us to focus on strengthening good governance and a culture of accountability,” Kagame said.
“With national programmes such as One Laptop-per-Child, universal health coverage, free 12-Year Basic Education and partnerships with world class universities such as Carnegie Mellon, we are putting in place, the building blocks of a knowledge economy. We are prioritising inclusive growth to empower citizens to chart their own futures and to innovate.”
The President listed some of the policies implemented to strengthen business friendly environment.
“Rwanda’s cabinet has just approved a new investment code, which includes a preferential corporate tax, and a seven-year tax holiday for key investments in sectors such as ICT, Business Process Outsourcing, agri-business, financial services and export-oriented industries,” he said.
Why Rwanda is perfect choice
Kagame told investors that there are good reasons for doing business in Rwanda and in East Africa, which has made strides in many sectors and created conducive political and economic reforms.
A 2013 World Bank ranked Rwanda as the easiest place to do business in EAC, after introducing regulatory reforms that improved the business environment between 2005 and 2012.
At Rwanda Development Board, business registration takes six hours only, and can also be done online. Foreign Direct Investment in East Africa has also grown by 23 per cnet per year making it the second highest rate in Africa, President Kagame said.
“For long term global investors with capital and expertise, this set-up translates into attractive opportunities, within the Northern Corridor Infrastructure Projects, which currently involve five Eastern African countries,” the President said.
“My counterparts and I are committed to these initiatives because of their great significance to our regional integration agenda and the well being of our citizens.”
Conservative Party MP Desmond Angus Swayne lauded Rwanda for setting an example of transformation on the continent and beyond.
“Rwanda is a country that is absolutely transformed from the human disaster area of 20 years when the world turned its back on Rwanda into the modern, safe, prosperous and corruption free zone that it is today,” Swayne said.
“It is an example of what the Prime Minister has called the golden thread of development where open and free markets, coincide with a government with strong institutions that are accountable and democratic and give rise to a peaceful, stable government so that people can trade their way to prosperity.”
The keynote address was followed by a panel discussion with Francis Gatare, Rwanda Development Board chief executive, Minister Claver Gatete of of Finance and Planning, and Alvaro Sobrinho, an Angolan investor due to open Invest in Rwanda bank in the country.
Yesterday’s forum concluded Kagame’s three-day visit to London, which began with the Global Africa Investment Summit, where the President discussed the theme, “Realising Africa’s Investment Potential,” alongside other African leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.