General Electric (GE), a US based firm, has set sights on investing in Rwanda, and is currently in talks with government to zero in on areas of investment. The New Times' Frank Kanyesigye caught up with the company President and CEO Africa, Jay W. Ireland, who talked about their prospects in the country and Africa in general.
QS: Could you briefly talk about yourself and the company you represent...
ANS: I am called Jay Ireland and I am the President and CEO of GE Africa, which has a regional office in Nairobi, Kenya.
GE is a US infrastructure company dealing in oil and gas with advanced technology equipment and services for all segments of the oil and gas industry, from exploration and production to downstream. We also deal in renewable natural gas and power generation. We are in healthcare as well, for instance, working with private and public hospitals to enable them with the capability to treat complicated diseases like cancer, diabetes, among others. Apart from gas and oil, GE is involved in electrification business technology solutions for the transmission, distribution, management, conversion and optimisation of electrical power across multiple energy intensive industries and aviation industry.
QN: What is the worth of your company?
ANS: Our company is a billion dollar firm. The market capital is more than $100 billion and revenues are around $180 billion a year; in sub-Saharan Africa we are about $7 bilion in revenues.
We are operating in 22 countries in sub-Saharan Africa but the majority of our revenues come from Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.
QSN: What strategies do you have for Rwanda and Africa continent in general?
ANS: As I told you earlier, our company is infrastructure based, so our goal is to continue to grow our business along with growth of the African economies; we think that there is tremendous need especially for energy and aviation industry in Rwanda and other African countries.
We are in great position to supply that capability working with partners from the project development point of view. We think the healthcare requirement will also become more important in our mission.
We feel that the infrastructure aspect of Africa's need is the key thing and we are confident we shall help the African countries to realise their goals.
QN: What attracted you to invest in Rwanda?
ANS: Rwanda has a great potential for investment; it ranks highly in World Bank Doing Business index, and that is one of the key things you look out for when you are considering where to invest your money. Apart ,from that Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies on Africa continent. We are in the process of negotiating with some of the ministries responsible for power generation and Healthcare in Rwanda. There is nothing to announce as yet because the negotiations are still internal but once we are done we shall inform the public though the media.
QN: What big projects have you worked on in the region, most especially in the EAC, and what is the implication of those projects?
ANS: In Kenya, we have got a couple of renewable projects; we are engaged in generation of wind power. We have got a number of hospital projects in Ethiopia, Angola, Kenya, Tanzania, power generation projects with natural gas fire and turbines but we are focusing on infrastructure development and healthcare in Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola and Nigeria. With discoveries of oil and gas in Uganda, we hope to take part in supplying equipment and services for all segments of the oil and gas industry.
QN: Have you signed any major contract with any country in the region?
ANS: We have signed an MoU with the government of Kenya which focuses on energy, power generation and health care, especially diagnostic imaging capability of the country in hospital development and transportation especially railway signaling.
QN: Rwanda is now exploring oil and gas, do you have any plans of taking part in the prospecting?
ANS: We follow the exploration companies, we will provide equipments to oil and gas exploration companies and we have power generation solution capability of providing gas engine that uses methane gas as fuel; basically we shall support the companies and not involve in exploration directly.
QN: What future plans do you have for Rwanda in terms of energy generation support?
ANS: We hope to continue working with Rwanda in power generation depending on what type of fuel is available; we will be in the healthcare industry in public and private hospitals training doctors and giving them the capacity to treat complicated diseases like cancer and diabetes.
We shall help in logistical capability, for instance transportation from ports of Kenya and Tanzania to Rwanda and once the oil and gas come we shall be supportive to those projects.
QN: Any recent successes in East Africa that you would like to expand to Rwanda?
ANS: One of the things we did with GE Foundation, we have just graduated a class of biomedical engineers we trained. One of the most important things for us is human capital, and we are working in a number of countries and this is one of the projects we are bringing to Rwanda, despite the fact that we are still in negotiations with the Government.
QSN: How do you see Rwanda, in terms of economic progress?
ANS: The country is good, I can see tremendous progress in economic developments, for a company like us, we are in position to invest in this country and what Rwanda needs we are ready to provide when it comes to energy, healthcare, among others.
QSN: You may want to add on?
ANS: GE is a technology based Infrastructure company that has a technology solution. We are looking forward to bringing those solutions to Africa and Rwanda in particular. Our company has been in existence for 100 years and we are here to help solve the most complex challenges across the globe. With a full array of advanced power generation and energy delivery technologies, we work collaboratively with customers to drive growth and progress, anticipate energy needs of the future, and power a cleaner, more productive world.