Country’s orientation an advantage over other EAC partners–experts

GASABO - Members of the Rwandan High Level task Force (HLTF) have said that the country’s strategic political orientation puts it ahead of its East African Community (EAC) partners.
Monique Mukaluriza, Minister for EAC affairs.
Monique Mukaluriza, Minister for EAC affairs.

GASABO - Members of the Rwandan High Level task Force (HLTF) have said that the country’s strategic political orientation puts it ahead of its East African Community (EAC) partners.

John Bosco Kanyangoga and Prudence Sebahizi, both members of the task force, underlined this in an exclusive interview at Prime Holdings Monday after presenting an update on the ongoing EAC Common Market negotiations.

The two are part of the taskforce that represents Rwanda in the ongoing negotiations for the East African Common Market.

“I think you can’t underrate the issue of strong and stable institutions, good governance, zero tolerance on corruption, all that, and an appropriate legal framework,” Kanyangoga said.

He noted that Rwanda, in spite of its drawbacks– including being small and landlocked – boasts particular advantages and has much to offer the bloc.

“At the end of the day, we are talking of short term and long term perspectives, and in this case, an investor will have confidence in a system that is very strong, and a system that is going to protect his investments.”

“We can really count on that, it is not something that we can underrate. It is a powerful potential that we can count on as an advantage to attract investors,” Kanyangoga underscored.
Pointing to national laws and specifically the investment code, Sebahizi, the chief negotiator, also concurs.

“When you look at how Rwanda’s business environment is, you can say that we are better than other EAC partner States because we have laid down a legal frame work which is more favourable to outside investors.”

They also highlighted other distinctive aspects such as tourism – gorillas and Rwanda’s culture, in addition to the country’s location and bilingualism.

“Being in the heart of Africa, we are strategically positioned. Investors may opt to come and conduct their business transactions here,” Kanyangoga said, also emphasising the leadership’s vision in transforming the country into a services and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) hub as a crucial advantage. He, however, acknowledged that other EAC countries like Kenya were already ahead in this sector.

“In terms of usage, they (Kenyans) are using IT at a higher level. When you look at their call centres, the way they are using IT, they are ahead of us according to what is already on the ground,” he admitted but pointed out that Rwanda remained ahead in terms of vision and commitment.

“That depends on how you look at it. Sincerely speaking, when it comes to political orientation, when it comes to strategic vision, when it comes to political commitment, Rwanda is ahead of others in the region.”

According to the programme, negotiations for the Common Market are supposed to be over by next year after which Heads of State will approve it before being in force by 2010.

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