Four business-related projects funded by the Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) have helped reduce the backlog of commercial cases, helped more arbitrators get accredited, and eased doing business and land transaction, officials have said.
The projects are Commercial Justice Project (implemented by the Supreme Court); Alternative Dispute Resolution Project (implemented by the Kigali International Arbitration Center); Business Lifecycle Project (implemented by the Rwanda Development Board), and the Land Administration Enhancement Project, which was implemented by the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority.
The three-year projects were officially closed on Friday.
The projects were funded by ICF and the Government.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the projects in Kigali, the ICF chief executive officer, William Asiko, said Rwanda is one of the countries where ICF has invested the most— about Rwf17 billion over the last four years.
Asiko said the results of the projects are remarkable. “Rwanda today is a star in terms of private sector investment not just in Africa but across the world,” he said, pointing to recent doing business reports.
He said part of this improvement is attributed to some of the interventions that were made through ICF.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Project saw 300 arbitrators trained, 260 of whom are accredited by the UK Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, making Rwanda the third country in Africa in terms of the number of accredited arbitrators.
The executive director of Kigali International Arbitration Center (KIAC), Dr Fidèle Masengo, said the project played a key role in building the capacity of KIAC, a newly established arbitrary institution.
“For a new arbitration institution, normally it takes between three to five years to file the first case. But, thanks in large part to this project, KIAC has been able to handle 28 arbitration cases and four mediation cases in its three years of existence. This is a tremendous achievement,” he said.
Beth Murora, the Secretary General of the Supreme Court, said the partnership with ICF has reduced the backlog in commercial courts and allowed more Rwandan judges to gain more experience, exposure and capacities.
“At the time the project came in, we had 800 cases in commercial courts. But, today, we have about 250 in commercial courts.”
She also said that, currently ,it takes less time to try a case and pronounce judgment in a commercial court. “It used to take 130 days to have a case tried and a ruling delivered. This has since reduced to 60 days.”
Louise Kanyonga, the Registrar General at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said the Business Lifecycle Project helped ease and streamline the process to start a business in the country.
She said, through their partnership with ICF, business registration was made more convenient and quicker for people, especially through online procedures.
“Previously, we had only 20 per cent of business registration being done online. But following the intervention of this project, online registration increased significantly to 100 per cent for business and mortgage registration,” she said.
She said taking business registration services online has since resulted in more businesses being registered, with figures indicating about 16,000 by end 2015 up from about 13,000 in 2014.
Mortgage registration increased to 17,000 in 2015 up from 14,000 in 2014, she added.
ICF also intervened in insolvency, offering supporting to businesses in financial distress.
Based in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, ICF is a pan-African development organisation dedicated to improve the climate for investment in Africa especially through removing barriers to doing business.