Does attracting investors take more than a conference?

Rwanda has of recent turned out to be an investment conference hub. In June this year, the country hosted the first ever East African investment forum which attracted 1,090 delegates surpassing the target of 800, from the region and afar, just one year after joining the regional bloc. This figure includes 414 from EAC partner states other than Rwanda, 253 delegates outside the EAC region. Rwanda generated 423 local participants.
This week’s conference brought businesspeople together, but will they invest? (Photo/G.Barya).
This week’s conference brought businesspeople together, but will they invest? (Photo/G.Barya).

Rwanda has of recent turned out to be an investment conference hub.

In June this year, the country hosted the first ever East African investment forum which attracted 1,090 delegates surpassing the target of 800, from the region and afar, just one year after joining the regional bloc.

This figure includes 414 from EAC partner states other than Rwanda, 253 delegates outside the EAC region. Rwanda generated 423 local participants.

This week, Rwanda has brought together about 550 investors from different parts of the world, in the East African International Business Forum (EAIBF) organised by the Commonwealth Business Council.

This comes even before the country is accorded membership into the Commonwealth nations group.

Francis Gatare, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of business operation and services at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said investment conferences act as a showcase for investment opportunities in the country and the entire region.

“But an investor’s decision does not come over night; there are always a lot of factors that influence it as investors are always on the look out.”

Gatare added: “Investors may have the willingness to invest but without knowing where the opportunities lie.”

“Conferencing is part of the appealing and leveraging packages tabled before investors but cannot be solely regarded as the cause for the increasing investments in the country,” he explained.

Gatare further explained that the conferences offer room for brainstorming on how to access finance and how to improve the investment climate and investment window.  

He however explained that while investment conferences are important, they have their limitations and are but the first step in a long process.

Dirk Harbencke of African Development Corporation which has to date invested in Simtel and Rwanda Development Bank, says that while conferences are important they are not the sole reasons behind an investment decision.

“Conferences are an opportunity to meet other investors and discuss opportunities,” said Harbencke in a telephone interview Thursday.

After meeting and discussing investment prospects, interested investors keep in touch with regional investment promotion agencies. This is where the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency comes in.

Gatare revealed that Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) among other investors have been in touch with Riepa.

KCB was awarded an operational license by the National Bank but is yet to begin operations.

Last year, Rwanda’s foreign direct investments were worth Frw125.9 billion —Frw59.8billion more than in 2006.

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