Rwandan businesses should move to make the most of opportunities in the Central African Republic, the head of the Rwandan private sector federation has said.
Robert Bafakulera says the private sector apex body is currently mobilising Rwandan business leaders to go to CAR and explore business opportunities there.
He said several local businesses were already moving to take advantage of the incentives that Bangui had offered to Rwandan investors.
"We are mobilising more investors to take advantage of Rwanda-CAR relationship," he told The New Times.
Rwanda is a major contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, with the latest deployment coming earlier this month, while Kigali last year also deployed Special Forces under a separate arrangement.
Early this month, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra visited Rwanda during which the two countries signed more bilateral agreements.
A delegation of 56 Rwandan business leaders visited CAR in April during which they created a company, with an initial capital of US$1 million (about Rwf1 billion), as they looked to enter the market.
Asked about the Investissement Futur de l'Afrique (IFA) Ltd, the firm set up by members of the delegation, Bafakulera said they had already put in place a leadership structure and acquired offices, and were currently raising additional capital.
The New Times understands that the company has opened offices in Bangui, Kigali, Douala (Cameroon) and DR Congo.
Some of the incentives that CAR offers to investors include tax holidays ranging from three to 10 years, depending on the size of investment.
For Rwandan investors, Bafakulera said, they will be given tax holidays of up to 10 years if they invest in rural areas and three years if they invest in urban areas.
Some of the investment opportunities are in the areas of infrastructure, energy, mining, agriculture, health and education, as well as hospitality.
Michael Shyaka Nyarwaya, deputy managing director, Pan African Logistics (PAL), said, "People should stop thinking of CAR as a landlocked country but rather see it as a land-linked country because it offers easy access to other countries."
During his recent visit to Rwanda, President Touadéra invited Rwandans to invest in his country, saying there was "plenty economic potential" there.
Roughly one-third of CAR's 623,000 square kilometres is considered suitable for farming yet only 3 per cent is cultivated.
The country is also rich in mineral resources, including diamonds; copper, gold, graphite, uranium, iron ore, tin, and quartz.