A leading Chinese lender, Export-Import Bank of China, has expressed interest in extending financial support to Rwanda's private sector, the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana has said.
He was speaking to The New Times from Beijing after holding a meeting with officials from the bank, also known as Exim Bank of China, or China Eximbank.
The minister was in China where he joined some 80 African ministerial-level officials for what has been dubbed the Coordinators' Meeting on the Implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a cooperation framework between China and Africa.
The two-day FOCAC meeting was described by delegates as an important opportunity to share insights into China-Africa relations, existing challenges and how best to strengthen the partnership for mutual interests.
Ndagijimana also held talks with officials from Export-Import Bank of China with whom he discussed avenues for supporting Rwanda's private sector, he said.
"We had a meeting with Export-Import Bank of China. We are looking at ways that the bank can extend financial support to the private sector in Rwanda," he said. "We are going to work closely to implement the plan,"
We are doing this under a new strategy, the minister added.
"We usually focus on government projects but we also want to support projects run by the private sector. We are going to prepare the action plan. The support will be provided through the banks to enable private sector operators to access long-term loans at a low interest rate."
According to Ndagijimana, the development will particularly help Rwanda's private sector in their import and export business.
"Our private sector has advanced over the years but there is still a long journey ahead. China has a big market and the support would effectively enable our businesses to access Chinese market in one way or another as well as impact the country's economic growth."
Reflecting on Rwanda-China relations, Ndagijimana said the two countries have enjoyed strong friendship for many years, adding that the ties were stepped up follow mutual visits by the heads of state.
He pointed out that the friendship is not limited to politics but covered other sectors, such as the economy, as well.
"Chinese support focus on developing infrastructure like roads and premises. In the infrastructure sector, there are various roads whose construction is being funded by the Chinese government.
"For instance, on the Rusizi-Karongi-Rubavu road there is a part of it that's financed by China, they are supporting on 54 kilometers of roads in Kigali focusing on expansion, the road expansion from Sonatube to the proposed Bugesera airport among other projects," he said.
Last week a new grant agreement between Rwanda and China was signed for another 10 kilometres to expand the road from Giporoso to Kabuga.
Commenting on the new development, Private Sector Federation (PSF) welcomed the move, saying it will help them reduce the challenges of access to capital.
Theoneste Ntagengerwa, the Spokesperson of PSF, said the move will help accelerate the implementation of some private sector led projects, which had been delayed due to financial constraints. He cited the proposed International Trade Fair Centre the organisation plans to construct in Gahanga, Kicukiro District.
Ntagengerwa added that they have already secured the land but have failed to develop it because of financial shortfalls.
Ntegengerwa believes such projects could potentially benefit from Eximbank financing.
China also supports the Government of Rwanda in the health sector, including financing Kibungo and Masaka hospitals.
The two countries also cooperate in education and agriculture.
As part of the over 60 billion US dollars development support to Africa announced last year by Chinese President Xi Jinping, we are also earmarking funds for expansion of industrial parks, Ndagijimana added.