Rwanda: Pakistani Firm Eyes Setting Up Industrial Park in Rwanda - Envoy


In 2021, Pakistan opened for the first time its high commission in Rwanda having residence in Kigali, a move that was attributed to the growing interest of bilateral and economic cooperation between both countries which spans over 60 years.

Close to three years down the road, a lot has happened between Rwanda and the Asian country. As Pakistan officials point out, it has only set the stage for the bilateral ties.

The New Times' Edwin Ashimwe had an exclusive interview with Naeem Ullah Khan, Pakistan High Commissioner-designate to Rwanda to get a picture of the direction of the two countries' relationship. Below are the excerpts

Take me through the experience of the first week when you arrived in Rwanda and how has it been for you working in Rwanda since then?

I also served as Director General Africa in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan. Therefore, I was covering the whole continent. During that, I read a lot about Rwanda and the growth trajectory that the country was on.

I had heard that it is a very safe country, very clean country, people are very organized, they are hardworking, it is a green country, many plantations, many tourism opportunities, which is the exact impression I got when I landed in Kigali.

Everything is clean and organized, especially the plantation because I am an environmentalist. I am an expert on natural resources as well. When I see the developments in the environment space here, the trees, the birds, the plants, and the cleanliness on the streets, it is highly impressive, and I am happy to be here.

How do you think the existence of this High Commission has improved relations between Rwanda and Pakistan?

We have had our resident mission here in Kigali, for the last two years while Rwanda is covering Pakistan from Beijing, China.

When we opened our resident mission here, there was a tangible improvement in our relations.

For example, Rwanda is exporting tea, coffee as well as various materials to Pakistan, while we (Pakistan) are exporting textiles, surgical instruments, rice and other electric appliances.

Some of the Pakistanis working here are doing wonderful in logistics and timber and furniture among other businesses

Recently we had three to four trade delegations that were organized by the embassy. Such things would be not possible without having a resident mission here.

We are in touch with the Pakistani community. We are in touch with the Rwandan exporters and Rwandan importers. They come here, they sit with us, and physically we have interaction.

What else has been done for the past two years?

We arranged four trade delegations from Rwanda to Pakistan. Rwanda is increasingly becoming very popular in Pakistan, especially because of tea and because of Rwandan progress in the last few years or decades.

Rwanda is becoming an example, a model for Pakistan, for national integration, for economic development, and for prosperity, which is gradually coming to this nation.

Going forward we want to improve our commercial relations and also, and we will be offering some scholarships to Rwandans so that they may be facilitated to Pakistan for training in diplomacy, engineering, and medical sciences because Pakistan is a country of 240 million people, it is a huge market. It is the fifth most populous country in the world.

Pakistan has a competitive benefit because of the price and the quality of the products.

Talking of trade, what is the level of business exchanges between Rwanda and Pakistan?

Actually, the average figure is $34 million in bilateral trade, and the balance is more on the side of Rwanda because Rwanda is exporting to Pakistan more than Pakistan is exporting to Rwanda.

We import almost 70 percent of Rwandan tea. It goes to Pakistan. Because Pakistan is a tea-taking nation.

Sometimes it goes from other ports but we are now having a program that the Rwandan tea should directly go to Pakistan instead of going through other ports or some other countries there should be a connection between Rwanda exporters and Pakistani importers.

We are now establishing direct linkages between the two countries. Our main exports are textiles, rice, surgical instruments, sports goods, and some electric, electronics and other appliances.

Also, we are now working on more IT-related products, information technology, and computer software programs. Pakistan is excellent in information technology.

Also, one of the important sectors that we are already working, that is pharmaceuticals and medical sciences. Pakistan has excellent products in pharmacies and medicines.

Do you intend to facilitate them directly, and how ?

That is our main purpose; if a Rwandan business person goes to Pakistan through other channels, why not directly?

The purpose of the diplomatic mission is connection, communication, bridging, and covering the distances, through having a common place where both Rwandans and Pakistanis can have a common place.

Let's talk about Pakistani businesses. What are they keen to invest in here?

The opportunities are vast. For example, one of the Pakistani firms is interested in opening a kind of free economic zone, an industrial zone, where they intend to buy a piece of land with the help of the Rwandan government.

We are already talking about it. They want to come and establish an industrial zone. Where Pakistanis and other businesspersons from other countries, can come together.

We have one of the world's deepest ports, Gwadar while Karachi is a big city. You can imagine that Karachi is like more than 20 million population, only one city.

Pakistanis are also looking to Rwanda as a central point from where they can launch their business activities in other countries.

Pakistanis are interested in investment in the industrial zone. They are already investing a lot in textiles, furniture, and surgical instruments.

Already some of the hospitals here in Kigali, are using Pakistani surgical instruments for operations, and surgery because Pakistan is one of the top producers of surgical instruments for operations.

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