Private sector tipped to lead the transformation agenda, what support do they need?

There is need for more empowerment of the private sector so that it can play a leading role in driving the national transformation agenda for the next seven years, analysts said yesterday.
Delegates follow proceedings during the Umushyikirano in Kigali, yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira
Delegates follow proceedings during the Umushyikirano in Kigali, yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira

There is need for more empowerment of the private sector so that it can play a leading role in driving the national transformation agenda for the next seven years, analysts said yesterday.

The experts said this in response to calls by different government leaders at the National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano) to put the private sector at the heart of national transformation.

The two-day dialogue council is taking place at the Kigali Convention Centre.

Aimable Kimenyi, of Algorithm Inc and head of Software Developers Association, told The New Times that private sector players are currently facing so many challenges yet there is lack of an entity to clearly analyse their problems and devise rules and regulations based on them.

This, he said, makes it hard for them to play a big role in transforming some sectors, adding that it is imperative that leaders deliberate on how to create a ‘body’ dedicated to analysing day-to-day challenges the sector faces.

“This body would not replace the existing institutions but it would have authority to put in place clear regulations for all players. It would, for example, help set up a perfect taxation system based on the scope of businesses that private companies run,” he proposed.

Kimenyi said that some local private businesses are burdened with taxes, and that this limits their operation.

Frank Habineza, head of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, echoed similar sentiments, saying government needs to extend more support to businesses.

“The discussions on the first day were quite satisfying, especially those that were supporting ideas of putting the private sector at the heart of the transformation effort. What is clear is that we have so many innovative businesses run by Rwandans, but we need clear mechanisms to drive them forward,” he noted.

For instance, he said, the government can establish an ‘Investment, Exports and Imports Promotion Bank’, dedicated mainly to supporting private businesses which face hurdles in accessing funding from commercial banks.

“Having this in place would help industries operate without limits. In addition, the government should facilitate creation of big industries in every district as this would reduce pressure on cities,” he said.

The annual dialogue is bringing about 2,000 participants from the public and private sectors, as well as citizens from different parts of the country and the diaspora.

Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), saidd that they are currently working on promoting Made-in-Rwanda, Start in Rwanda, ‘Grow in Rwanda and Beyond’ and other initiatives that are aimed at facilitating private sector to grow.

She noted that they are seeing a lot of opportunities in light manufacturing and textiles, as well as electronics, which she said the private sector can exploit to help the country accelerate its development.

“But this requires private players to be innovative. We should have a mindset of thinking big, be bold and strive for better welfare of the people in any business we do,” she said.

Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi, the Northern Province Governor, cited the need to avail right opportunities to young people.

“We should move from mere talk of young people, entrepreneurs with abundant opportunities around them and help them tap into those opportunities. We have heard issues of finance, but we still have a solution for this. We can think of creating income generating activities at every provincial or district level,” he said.

This, he added, is possible if people deliberate on the right way of achieving it.

The Dialogue ends this Tuesday.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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