10 July 2019

Rwanda Courts Investors for Tech and Infrastructure Development

Rwanda is courting investors in digital and traditional infrastructure development at the ongoing annual General Shareholders Meeting of Africa50, a pan-African infrastructure investment firm.

With Africa50's investor base currently composed of 27 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib, the government is keen on showcasing opportunities across various sectors in the country.

Among the avenues of investments that Rwanda is showcasing for investment include the Kigali Innovation city, which has 11 components at a cost of $420 million with a number of opportunities present.

KIC currently features an innovation and knowledge hub consisting of world class learning institutions and tech companies with room open for additional firms.

The project also features the Rwanda Innovation Fund, a privately managed $100 million fund for the development of world class technologies with the private sector invited to join in.

The Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paul Ingabire, said that Rwanda had created an enabling environment for investment in multiple sectors including technology with room for public private partnership.

She said that by investing alongside the private sector, the government was de-risking the sector as well as exhibiting confidence in the opportunities.

She added that Rwanda was also open to a proof of concept model where solutions can be tested before being rolled out across the continent. Already solutions such as Tap &Go have been successfully tested and are currently being rolled out in other markets.

Guy Baron, Chief Investment Officer of Rwanda Development Board, said that over the past years, Rwanda had done much to create an environment to become an innovation hub on the Continent.

Giving his firm's experience investing in Rwanda, Patrick Buchana the Chief Executive of Tap and Go said that the country is also ideal in that it does not have a stifling regulatory environment which limits firms from growing.

He said that the legal environment is progressive enough and does not stifle innovation.

Experts say that to make gains in the digital age, countries ought to create ecosystems that allow for research and development of concepts.

Alain Ebobissé, Chief Executive of Africa50, said that its by having vibrant ecosystems and conducive environments, such as Rwanda's, that countries can leverage on disruptive technologies.

"In Africa we won't be able to close the infrastructural gap by following traditional infrastructure technologies. We need to find disruptive technologies to leapfrog so we can close the gap," he said.

Africa50 is one of the investors in Kigali Innovation City (KIC) having signed an agreement with the Government last year.

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