National carrier RwandAir on Saturday launched its tri-weekly flights to Juba, a new route that is set to broaden the horizons for Rwandan business operators and their counterparts in South Sudan.
With the new Juba route, the Rwandan business community will tap into the young economy of the country that has also requested to join the East African Community.
The two-year old Republic of South Sudan is a landlocked country located in east-central Africa and it’s currently struggling to develop its economy after spending decades fighting to secede from Sudan.
Simon Mijok Mijak, the South Sudanese Minister for Transport, believes that the new airline entering their horizons, will boost the import and exports of the country as well as connectivity to other foreign destinations.
He said flying from South Sudan to Kigali to attend a conference was always a challenge, adding it required them to go through Kampala, Uganda, and then connect to Rwanda.
Mijak said this is the sixth airline that has come to operate in his country, which he said was a feat, and an opportunity for business operators in the region to tap into the new market.
“There are different investment opportunities in various sectors like agriculture, mining and forestry, among others and we invite fellow Africans, especially from East Africa, to come and invest in our country,” he told the regional media that converged to witness the event in South Sudan.
“Our economy is growing and there many opportunities that need to be exploited,” he said, adding that he was optimistic about the contribution of RwandAir toward the development of his country.
The official assured the Rwandan community in Juba of security and protection, saying the two countries have a lot in common citing the war struggle to liberate the countries.
Other airlines that operate flights to Juba include Air Uganda and Kenya Airways.
Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, the Minister for Infrastructure, said the opening of the new route was not only for transportation of people and goods, but also boosting diplomatic relationship between two countries.
He said it was a huge opportunity for the two nations to strengthen the economic ties by facilitating the business communities to invest in the countries.
Prof. Lwakabamba added that South Sudan as a country that has applied to join the five-nation EAC bloc possessed an opportunity of making use of the regional market.
Chances of Juba joining the bloc are high as it meets some requirements like proximity.
It is noteworthy that the world’s newest State is always invited to attend ongoing EAC meetings as an observer, something many view as sign to enable it to be familiar with integration issues.
The EAC treaty sets out conditions for membership, including adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
It stipulates that for a country to be allowed membership, it should be able to contribute towards the strengthening of integration within the region; geographic proximity between it and partner states and establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy.
John Mirenge, the CEO RwandAir, commended the Juba government for allowing them to expand their network of routes, promising that as they continue to build a client base, they plan, in the near future to start daily flights.
“We are the fastest growing airline in Africa, we promise that we shall provide affordable, safe and quality services especially with our brand-new planes what we say is what we do,” he said while addressing the gathering of government officials, diplomats and Juba business community.
The company now owns a fleet of seven planes operating in various African countries and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Rwanda’s aviation industry has experienced rapid growth with more airlines adding Kigali to their destinations. The most recent entrants include, South African Airways, Qatar Air and the Turkish Airlines.
Others operating in the country include SN-Brussels, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and Air Uganda.
John Bosco Murenzi, a Rwandan living South Sudan, said few Rwandans were operating business in Juba adding there was a need to develop a strategy to encourage Rwandans to venture into the market.