Ceaser Kayizari, the Rwandan ambassador to Turkey, is confident that fostering trade linkages and partnerships between local businesses and multinational entrepreneurs is essential to grow Rwanda’s industrial sector and ensure economic sustainability.
Business Times Peterson Tumwebaze caught up with the ambassador during the recent Turkey-East Africa trade mission in Gaziantep Turkey, and asked him about what local entrepreneurs should do to penetrate international markets:
You assumed office as Rwanda’s envoy in Turkey six months ago; what are some of the opportunities for Rwanda in the country?
There are immense opportunities for Rwanda businesses in almost all the sectors of the Turkish economy. That’s why I call on our business people to come and explore them and see how they can exploit and benefit.
They (local business people) should also form linkages with Turkish private sector players so as to create partnerships with Turkish entrepreneurs, which will open doors to European markets for Rwandan goods and services.
We are even lucky there are daily passenger and cargo flights between Kigali and Istanbul by Turkish Airlines. This is something that Rwandan businessmen should take advantage of and ferry products into Europe through Turkey.
What is the embassy doing to help Rwandan entrepreneurs achieve this goal?
We are working closely with both Turkish government and the private sector on a business framework that will not only boost our political relationships, but also strengthen trade and commerce between the two countries. In fact, Turkey has accepted to open an embassy in Kigali as part of the efforts to boost trade and political relations between the two countries.
Also, we are currently identifying potential Turkish investors who we can match with our businesses for possible partnerships and joint ventures.
We are generally working hard to promote investments and trade between our people and Turkey’s private sector. On this front, we are in the process of signing bilateral trade deals with Turkey’s Ministry of Trade which we hope will greatly benefit our private sector.
All those are building blocks which our entrepreneurs must exploit. In fact, Rwanda businesses should use Turkey as a stepping stone into other European markets.
According to a recent World Bank report, Rwanda’s private sector has not been doing well over the past nine months; what do you think can be done revitalise it?
First of all, Rwanda is already doing well, especially in creating an enabling environment.
The government is also helping in building the capacity of the private sector to make it strong and more competitive. Rwanda’s political stability is also a plus that should spur business growth, while zero tolerance to corruption and a strong macro-economic framework ensure that businesses can thrive without having to worry much about negative forces in the economy.
Therefore, I believe the situation is not as bad as it is being presented and, especially given the government’s support to the sector and the enabling environment in the country. For instance, we have a robust banking sector, which is essential in fostering private sector growth.
How can Rwanda reach its export potential in the international market?
We have to sell the country as a land of opportunity that offers a big market, with supportive policies for investors. The problem has been that most investors are not aware of the enormous opportunities the country offers. Investors also like to put their money in places where there is transparency; trustworthiness and market confidence.
It is also imperative that investors know that they can transfer their money from a bank in Kigali to Gizaintep in Turkey without any interference or fear of losing it in the process.
When it comes to exports, local producers must emphasise quality, and the government should also promote further value addition to expand the exports base.
What our people should always remember is that they can never compromise quality for anything; top quality products supported by sustainable volumes are what matters most on the global market, not just volumes.
Many have said that fostering private-public partnerships and international joint ventures with multinational companies is the best catalyst to spur Rwanda’s growth; do you agree?
To build partnerships, you have to build confidence and be able to get crucial contacts to strengthen our trade and commerce. There must be that kind of assurance between the private sector to foster partnerships and reliable joint ventures.
Rwanda is heading that way; we have a vision already, so what is needed is for everyone to get on board and make their contribution.
The good will of our leaders and conducive business environment will help Rwanda achieve its economic objectives and ensure sustainability.