It was way back in the year 2006 when the Honorable Minister Mahabir Prasad , Ministry of Small Scale Industries , Republic of India led a delegation to Rwanda which culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 30 August, 2006 , between his Ministry and the then Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion , Tourism and Cooperatives, Republic of Rwanda.
Four years have elapsed since the MOU was signed, but nothing really concrete developed between the two countries during this period.
It is common for such MOUs to just collect dust in the cupboards of the Ministries concerned on both sides. However, the situation saw a dramatic change as soon as His Excellency, Williams Nukurunziza took over as Rwanda’s first High Commissioner to India in August this year.
The High Commissioner and his dynamic team organized a very successful four city Road Show in October which was led by Vincent Karega, Minister of Infrastructure .This delegation included high ranking officials from the Rwanda Development Board, as well as other Government agencies, Rwanda Private Sector Federation and senior persons from the private sector.
Immense awareness about the country was created and Clare Akamanzi, Chief Operating Officer, RDB, in her very interesting presentations, highlighted what the country can offer and how easy it was to set up and do business in Rwanda.
The Mission to India was so successful that Rwanda has already hosted a delegation from the Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and RDB has even signed a partnership agreement with an Indian giant to the tune of US$ 250 million.
While major projects in the country can well be taken up by companies like the Tatas, Reliance and others, it might be pertinent to note that, to a great deal, India’s vibrant Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector offers Rwanda abundant opportunities for growth.
The Indian MSME sector consists of as many as 26 million enterprises spread over the length and breadth of this vast country. The sector employs 60 million individuals; it accounts for 45 % of the country’s manufacturing production and around 40 % of all exports.
In these enormous facts and figures, lies the latent potential for Rwandan enterprises to tap into and get a fair share of the India story, where the economy has recorded an interesting 8.5 % GDP growth.
The MOU signed between the two Governments, facilitates capacity building for developing policy and institutional framework through exchange of experts.
It provides for potential surveys and feasibility studies to identify thrust areas. More importantly, the MOU has a provision for promoting partnership projects, institution–to-institution and enterprise–to-enterprise cooperation between the two countries.
There are also provisions for providing training, participating in exhibitions and trade fairs and exchange of business missions between the two countries.
The Rwanda Private Sector Federation also signed MOUs with various Chambers, including the 103 year old Indian Merchants’ Chamber – a leading Chamber of Commerce and Industry headquartered in Mumbai – the commercial capital of the country.
Against this background, the time is now ripe for Rwandan enterprises to penetrate the Indian MSME sector and forge partnerships in the very near future. The Export –Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank ) recently opened an office in Ethiopia from where they would be happy to service Rwandan enterprises. Moreover, EXIM Bank, in association with leading public sector and private sector advisory organizations, has set up a unique venture – Global Procurement Consultants Limited ( GPCL) under the very able leadership of Mr. Shankarnarayan R. Rao as President , to advise both Indian enterprises as well as enterprises from other countries interested in doing business with India .
Indian MSMEs would surely be very happy to partner with Rwandan enterprises and do business together leading to a win-win situation in the New Year .