The Rwandan business community has been urged to make the most of the existing trade and investment opportunities in Gabon, the central African nation's envoy to Rwanda has said.
Amb. Michel Xavier Biang said this yesterday after meeting the Private Sector Federation (PSF) leaders in Kigali, during which they discussed ways of encouraging local investors to take advantage of the investment opportunities in his country.
Gabon is an upper-middle-income country. The fifth largest oil producer in Africa, it has experienced strong economic growth over the past decade, driven in particular by oil and manganese production.
Despite its enormous natural resources, Gabon imports almost 100 per cent of all its consumable products and services.
However, the Libreville government is in the process of diversifying its economy to grow its manufacturing sector, agro-processing, and service sector to reduce its trade deficit.
"We are ready to facilitate any Rwandan company that would invest in our country. Rwanda is a role model, that's why we need to grow our trade partnership in order to boost investment in the two countries," the Gabonese envoy said during his meeting with PSF leadership.
Biang said that the central African country was over-depending on foreign imports, adding that Rwanda is among the target countries they wish to benefit from the Gabonese market. The envoy further observed that if Rwandan investors open up companies in Gabon, it would be an opportunity to tap into other central and west African markets.
Gabon is a member of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) with other members, including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.
RwandAir, the national flag carrier, already has direct flights to Libreville and this would facilitate local exporters to transport their goods there.
The PSF Chairman, Benjamin Gasamagera, said that soon the Rwandan and Gabonese private sector umbrella bodies would sign a legal framework detailing how Rwandan investors would enter the Gabonese market.
"Gabon is a potential market for our products. After signing a Memorandum of Understanding with our counterparts in Gabon we will embark on mobilising local exporters to tap into this central African market," Gasamagera said.
The meeting was attended by PSF Vice Chairman Clever Mugabo, 2nd Vice-Chairperson Francine Havugimana, as well as PSF CEO Stephen Ruzibiza.
He added that Gabon was interested in Rwandan investors in various sectors, including agro-processing, manufacturing, service sector and fisheries.
"With our initiative to promote Made-in-Rwanda brands, definitely we will need to have bigger local and foreign markets, that's why Gabon would be an opportunity for us to export our products and this will create employment opportunities," Gasamagera said.
Last year, the two countries signed an agreement to launch a one-area network to boost and ease communication and this would enhance doing business between two countries.
PSF is currently targeting the central and west African market by facilitating local exporters as part of broader efforts to look for market for locally made products.
Last year, local producers were facilitated to exhibit their goods and services in DR Congo and Congo-Brazzaville, and soon a PSF Liaison office will be opened in Brazzaville to facilitate Rwandan traders who would want to penetrate central and west African markets.
Amb. Michel Xavier Biang, who is resident in DR Congo, is also accredited to Uganda and Burundi.