Rwandan companies seek to diversify into new foreign markets | The new times

A delegation of 56 Rwandan business leaders visited the Central African Republic (CAR) last April and soon after formed a company, Investissement Futur de l’Afrique (IFA) Ltd, as they sought to exploit the opportunities there.

The company sets up a management structure, acquires office space and undertakes to start operations in a wide range of areas such as agriculture and mining.

“We are trying to strategize on how to benefit, in an orderly manner, from the opportunities offered by different countries to the Rwandan business community,” said Theoneste Ntagengerwa, spokesperson for the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

In this regard, he said, one activity implemented is trade missions to these host countries.

Diego Twahirwa, a young Rwandan agribusiness entrepreneur. He landed a deal to supply 50,000 tons of dried chilli worth $100 million to China (Courtesy)

Trade missions have always been organized to promote Rwandan exports, but about five years ago there was a trend to help Rwandans invest abroad.

Rwandan business delegations have visited China, Turkey and elsewhere and more trips are expected to other countries in the future.

PSF, with the support of the government, has also opened a one-stop center in the Republic of Congo.

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra who visited Rwanda last August welcomed and promised to facilitate Rwandan entrepreneurs wishing to invest in his country.

In CAR, Rwandan investors will benefit from incentives such as tax exemptions of up to 10 years if they invest in rural areas and three years if they invest in urban areas. The national carrier, RwandAir, now operates flights to the capital, Bangui.

Trade and business opportunities abound here as the vast, resource-rich country is endowed with untapped arable land and forest resources.

According to reports, about a third of the approximately 623,000 square kilometers of the CAR is suitable for agriculture, but only about 3% is cultivated.

Jeanne Mubiligi, President of Africa Future Investment, said, “We started our business in April last year and we had an opportunity in gold mining. This was our first investment, small scale gold mining, but many other opportunities are being considered.

Mubiligi added, “There are many other investment potentials in agriculture and related sectors as well as in trade and logistics. We want to trade in raw materials and logistics; we also have real estate investments in the pipeline.

CAR is not the only country whose business opportunities were explored last year by the local business community.

According to Ntagengerwa, other organized trade missions include those to Finland – a potential gateway to the wider market of Russia and the Nordic countries.

According to sources, Rwanda and Finland have signed an agreement to promote, encourage and increase trade and investment opportunities that enhance sustainable development in the two countries.

It aims to encourage trade and investment cooperation in 12 areas, including: manufactured goods, agro-industrial products, industrial development, economic empowerment of SMEs and women, transport, forestry and the extractive industry.

Another trade mission visited neighboring DR Congo.

Last January, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi met with then-Rwandan Trade and Industry Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye and Rwanda’s envoy to Kinshasa Vincent Karega to discuss ways through which neighboring countries can increase their economic and trade links.

Their meeting came after, among other things, RwandAir’s first commercial flight to Kinshasa, revived business and strengthened commercial ties between the two countries.

A trade mission to Zimbabwe has been canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it could take place this year.

While in Kigali last October, Allan Majuru, managing director of ZimTrade, Zimbabwe’s trade promotion and development agency, said “the opportunities are limitless”, and all they want to do is to ensure that “we provide a platform for our countries to trade effectively”. and competitively.

Asked about the main business or commercial and investment opportunities that Rwandan investors could expect in her country, Yvonne Gundu, spokesperson for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Zimbabwe, said that “Zimbabwe is one of Africa’s main destinations for trade and investment”.

She added, “We have a stabilizing economy that is endowed with a vast array of natural resources, including minerals, climate, tourist destinations and fertile soils, among others.”

Gundu shared insight into “some of the areas Rwandans can consider for trade and investment.”

His list included jewelry manufacturing, chrome smelters and platinum refineries, tourism infrastructure, fishing, agribusiness, steel manufacturing, solar power generation, logistics, lithium batteries, black granite cutting and polishing, wood processing and the dairy value chain.

There is also hydropower generation, value added tea and coffee products, diamond cutting and polishing, fertilizer production, thermal power generation, sugar production, beef and the development of infrastructure and tourist facilities.

As mentioned, Rwandans can also try their luck in establishing metal smelters and refineries; the cotton to apparel value chain and the leather and leather products value chain.

The objectives of trade missions, Ntagengerwa said, are threefold. First, to explore the opportunities available in a country. Second, to organize business to business meetings whose main objective is networking so that local businessmen meet potential customers as well as business partners in other countries.

Thirdly, for the necessary interactions with the business promotion institutions in the countries visited so that “we can discuss important things and, for example, know the correct procedures for setting up a business in each country”.

“The trade mission is one of the strategies, but we also have an office, here in the PSF offices, which facilitates anyone who wants to venture abroad to do business. We provide information and even keep in touch and help resolve issues whenever they arise.

In the first quarter of this year, it is hoped that a trade mission to Zimbabwe can be prepared. Another to Mozambique is also on the list although no certain date has yet been set.

In the middle of last month, Gil Bires, director general of Mozambique’s investment and export promotion agency, Agência Para a Promoção de Investimento e Exportações (APIEX), told The New Times that Rwandans are urged to make the most of take advantage of Mozambique’s many investment opportunities.

Bires said they were open and had “very attractive investment regulations that are favorable to foreign direct investment”.

Among others, the Mozambican Investment Law grants tax and customs benefits depending on the amount, location and sector of the investment activity. Discussions are ongoing to see how RwandAir can have direct flights to Mozambique.

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