Japan tips Rwanda to become a regional services hub

Despite Rwanda’s hard luck in natural resources, the country still has the capacity to grow into a regional services and industrial hub, the Japanese ambassador to Rwanda noted
A canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest (The New Times /File)
A canopy walk in Nyungwe Forest (The New Times /File)

Despite Rwanda’s hard luck in natural resources, the country still has the capacity to grow into a regional services and industrial hub, the Japanese ambassador to Rwanda noted

Kunio Hatanaka says that investing in human resources and technology to provide better services and logistics, especially for the industrial sector will close the gap of lack of natural resources like oil, which is one of the most daunting challenges in the country.

“We cannot depend on natural resources to develop. Like Japan, with no natural resources, Rwanda can develop into an industrial hub,” the envoy told Business Times recently.

Albert Nzamukwereka, the new president of Junior Chamber International-JCI, noted that through initiatives such as business plan competitions he is hopeful that many youth would be able to start businesses and employ others, thus boosting the SME sector.

The competition of worth 5000 to US1m to best projects which ended this month saw Jackson Ndayambaje emerged as winner with his rural energy project, while Isidore Nzeyimana and Gamaliel Cyamatare were 1st and 2nd Runners-up respectively.

The ambassador noted that like Japan one of the world’s industrialized country that leaned on technology and development of human resources, Rwanda needs to increase technical training, entrepreneurship and ICT to realize its vision of a service based economy by 2020.

Hatanaka said that Japan will be more willing to reinforce government’s efforts on request through the technical cooperation the two countries are enjoying. Japan has through JICA, funded the One Village One Product project that aims at increasing value addition to agricultural products and also steer rural areas to grow into small industrial centers.

 Professor Rama B Rao Dean, Faculty of Economics and Management at the National University of Rwanda, believes developing the SME sector that would be able to produce capital goods to meet the market would reduce on Balance of Payment imbalances.

Rwanda’s manufacturing/industrial sector that pumps only 4.3 per cent to the country’s GDP produces fast moving consumer goods like beverages leading dependence on imports   from the region, Uganda topping with over Rwf 5billion, with other imports from Europe, Asia.

According to African Economic outlook 2011, Rwanda has the potential to achieve a much higher rate of economic growth through increasing investment in creating a skilled labour force, removing infrastructure bottlenecks and improving farm productivity.

Nevertheless, Jerome Gasana Director General of Workforce Development Agency-WDA  notes that  the government is putting efforts to close the skills gap that is created by increased Investment ventures through promotion of Technical and  vocational trainings.

The current proposed provincial industrial parks expected to boost Foreign Direct Investment and SME growth is to raise over 16,287 jobs in the next ten years increasing the skilled labour short fall.

“ The government has decided to reduce the number students going to University for others course and increase technical entries,”, he said adding that 8 more technical Institutions are yet to open in January, 6 are in pipeline.

dias.nyesiga@newtimes.co.rw

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