As the East African Community (EAC) Common Market Protocol comes into effect, Rwanda is repositioning itself to become the region’s service hub.
The EAC Common Market was officially launched last week to allow the free movement of people, goods, services, capital and labour in the region.
“We have taken up a strategy to place ourselves as services and ICT hub. When you look at the way we are geographically located in the region, it gives us a competitive advantage to deal with various countries,” said Molly Rwigamba, the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Federation.
Rwigamba, who was speaking during a press briefing about the EAC Common Market, said that the ongoing development of a free trade area in Kigali will facilitate the country in offering services to the region.
“This is something we will take advantage of in terms of the region- someone will prefer coming to Kigali other than going somewhere to buy a similar good if it is tax exempt.”
With the current campaign to promote the EAC as one tourist destination, Rwigamba observed that this would also boost Rwanda’s tourism sector.
This year, the service sector is expected grow following announcement by government that it was making heavy strategic investments into the sector.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Development recently told Business Times that government intends to make Rwanda’s national courier, RwandAir, a more competitive airline and also construct a new airport in Bugesera that conforms to international standards.
Other projects include the ongoing construction of a convention center together with a five star hotel that is expected to be open for business by end of 2011.
The sector is projected to grow and reach 7.6 percent in the Financial Year 2010/2011, up from 4.3 percent last year.
Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry said that, within the service sector investment in the 2,300 km of fiber cable and establishment of the National Data Centre will enhance the country’s competitiveness in the region.
“We want to offer high end quality services. We may not compete in terms of quantity but we will be competitive when it comes to offering quality services,” Nsanzabaganwa underscored.
The Minister also said other projects in the pipeline such as the Methane gas will facilitate the country in achieving its goal.