Rwanda Courts UAE Investors at Global Meet

19 November 2019

The government and members of the private sector are seeking to increase the involvement of the United Arab Emirates in the Rwandan economy and have gone on a charm offensive at the ongoing 2019 Global Business Forum Africa.

At the summit underway in Dubai, Rwanda is represented by a delegation of the private and public sectors in a bid to attract investments.

The forum is hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) under the theme 'Scaling up Africa' and is attended by Heads of State, ministers, policymakers, prominent business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs from Africa and beyond.

Rwanda is targeting investors who are present in the UAE market and are seeking to diversify to Africa as well as those who invest through Dubai owing to its investment infrastructure.

Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Clare Akamanzi who held a series of meetings with investors told The New Times that they are interesting global investors on a number of priority sectors.

A delegation of over 17 business executives from UAE look at spare parts imported from Sharjah City at the Dubai Port World in Kigali on August 30. Emmanuel Kwizera.

Among the key priority sectors that UAE firms have expertise and financial capacity to venture into include mining, agro-processing, light manufacturing and tourism.

For mining, Akamanzi said that they are seeking involvement both in exploitation and processing with light manufacturing involving assembly and electronics.

In tourism, Rwanda is seeking involvement in acquisition of shares on existing hospitality establishments as well as development of tourism infrastructure in national parks.

Akamanzi noted that Rwanda's ambitions of becoming a financial services hub are also looking up to Dubai which has already established itself. Other aspects that are being showcased include healthcare and real estate.

"Rwanda needs all types of investors, there are projects that need high capital investments and require sizable players in finance and expertise while there is room for innovations seeking proof of concept. We also promote companies that are proof of concepts that want to test their products which have potential to solve problems. We look at the value proposition," she said.

President and CEO Hamad Buamim Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that they are seeking to increase their involvement in Rwanda and other African countries in multiple ways.

The recent private sector entrants into the Rwandan ecosystem is Dubai Ports World (DPW), a Dubai based global port operator who in 2016 signed a 25-year concession agreement with the government to construct and manage the mega facility that sits on about 30 hectares of land. The port was launched in October this year.

Buamim said that beyond large firms entering into the region, they are interested in working with start-ups and emerging firms who can grow sustainably to address key concerns.

That he said will go along with mentorship and support programmes to facilitate the growth of African start-ups creating win-win scenarios. He described this as an ideal way of tapping into the youth dividend.

Speaking of innovations and start-ups from Rwanda, he said that they were relevant and scalable to have impact on the continent and beyond.

Members of the Rwandan private sector at the summit say that they are also willing to co-invest with the international firms to increase their confidence in the market.

Private Sector Federation Chairperson Robert Bafakulera told The New Times that among deliberations being held looked into ways to create partnerships for investments.

"We want people from Dubai to see opportunities in Rwanda, we want them to being their experience and capital to work with us. When we talk to them, we are urging them to take advantage of the opportunities in value addition, processing agriculture, logistics among others," he said.

Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Information Society Authority Innocent Muhizi said that they are also assessing ways to improve the positioning of Rwanda as a proof of concept destination for new investors.

"As a country, we are working out how we can position ourselves to tap into the opportunities for start-ups. Rwanda is positioning itself as a proof of concept destination in fin-tech, med-tech and Agri-tech among others we see as having potential growth. We are able to discuss with potential investors. It is a good opportunity to position ourselves to make the most of the opportunities by start-ups," he said.

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