Visiting Japanese investors have committed to forge business partnerships in the country’s manufacturing sector, auto mobiles, Information and Communication Technology, agro processing, energy, textile and industry.
The initiative, announced at a business seminar with members of the private sector, in Kigali, yesterday, could be a spring board for job creation, export diversification and economic transformation, according to economists.
It comes at a time when government and the private sector are working toward accelerating the country’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2).
“We are here to express our appetite for Rwanda’s investment business. We are sure our commitment will help boost the country’s private sector and foster economic ties between the two countries,” Ishihara Hirotaka, the Japan Parliamentary Vice Minister of Foreign affairs, said.
The meeting, organised by Rwanda Development Board, attracted more than 20 Japanese companies, including Toyota Tsusho Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, ITOCHU, NEC, Nishimura and Asahi.
It follows the recent Africa- Japan business forum, where Rwanda was appointed to act as a focal point for the regional-Japanese business initiatives.
Hirotaka said they had heard about Rwanda many times through World Bank reports and were here to get first hand information on what is on offer in terms of investments. He urged local businesses to take advantage of ICT and focus on quality to penetrate Asian markets.
Francis Gatare, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, said business partnerships with Japan would complement what government is already doing.
“Government has taken it upon itself to facilitate the private sector with an excellent business environment,” Gatare told the investors.
Hannington Namara, the CEO, Rwanda Private Sector Federation, said Rwanda’s exports to Japan are still very low compared to what the country is importing from the Asian country.
“We are hoping that with these partnerships, Rwanda will be able to diversify its exports to Japan and narrow its trade deficit,” Namara noted.
Currently, Rwanda exports, tea, coffee and a few hand crafts to Japan, Namara said.
A new EY’s attractiveness Survey Africa report (2014), indicated that foreign direct investment inflows into Rwanda increased by 6.3 per cent last year, making the country one of the top 10 investment destinations in Africa.