By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
The European Union and the US Embassy in Rwanda have pledged to sustain cooperation with the Government of Rwanda in continuing to promote investment while the country continues to deal with the impact of COVID 19 on economic growth as well as the investment and trade sectors.
The talks on cooperation between the two partners and the Government of Rwanda were held at the European Business Chamber (EBCR) and American Chamber in Rwanda (AmCham) Webinar with the Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Development Board Clare Akamanzi who highlighted how the Government of Rwanda managed the complicated times of COVID 19 and how the recovery programs will need joint effort as the country’s economic growth has hardly hit by the pandemic despite positive hopes in the recovery.
The webinar was attended by Board members for the EU and the American Chambers of Commerce, the EU Ambassador to Rwanda, the US Ambassador to the Rwanda as well as Claire Akamanzi, the CEO of the RDB and ‘others.
In the course of the webinar, the EU Ambassador Nicola Bellomo commends the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to combat COVID 19 and the Establishment of the Economic Recovery Fund, which was created to address the impact of the epidemic on the economy and especially on the Private sector.
Ambassador Bellomo also commends the government and the people of Rwanda for the effective and timely response to COVID 19 adding that “We as European Union, we are strongly supporting thanks to what we call the team Europe approach the government of Rwanda in the response to this crisis.”
He added that “On the social economic response, we also particularly welcome the establishment of the economic recovery fund” while at the same time both partners might also identify through the crises some unseen opportunities with a shared interest in supporting the government of Rwanda in laying the foundation for a stronger and more resilient economic development model.
On the U.S support, Ambassador Peter Vrooman said that since the beginning of COVID, the United States has been helping Rwanda cope with the epidemic through a variety of recovery support, including in health, the private sector and also contribution to the Recovery Fund.
Claire Akamanzi comment on the existing measures to promote investment in Rwanda in the face of the global economic crisis, says that the Rwandan government has revised its investment code including facilitating investors through various incentives and this gives hope that the Rwanda’s economy will return to normal.
Madam Akamanzi explains that the new investment code is going to be very catalytic in attracting more investments in Rwanda and the reason for that is that “we’ve created an investment code that is very pragmatic and also very much aligned with our performance.”
She says “We have new sectors that we are giving incentives like financial services because of the international financial Centre that we’re putting in place.”
Recently, the cabinet meeting led by President Paul Kagame has approved the composition of IFC (International financial Corporation) which is tasked to provide a wide range of investment and advisory services that help businesses and entrepreneurs meet the challenges they face in the marketplace.
Claire Akamanzi added that this is part of supporting innovation by coming up with seed capital fund in the investments sector.
“We are also incentivizing industrial park development because it has been a very good source of manufacturing I think if you read the investment code at the draft investment code you see exactly where what to expect to be in terms of economic priorities, because those have been very specifically located incentives.” She noted
“I am also really excited that we’re increasingly seeing companies coming to set up their headquarters in Rwanda, or their regional offices and we’ve catered for their needs.” Akamanzi told the Webinar
She commends philanthropic organizations that are looking at Africa and looking for regional offices in Africa.
Clare Akamanzi also expressed gratitudes to all the chambers (EU and American) and assuring them that RDB is ready to continue to help all investors through various departments including one that has access to information on Investment in Rwanda.
She says that the US and the European region geographies remained very important sources for investment in Rwanda.
“So, we’re very happy to see that this platform is an added platform for engagement, but on the recovery fund, obviously, first of all, and the whole recovery of our economy.” She noted
“This year is going to be something that we are learning about as we go on and many of you have followed the economy performance over the last year’s 2019 for me was probably the best year you know in our achievements, the economy grew at 9.4% one of the highest in a while our investments reached a record $2.4 billion of investment deals that we registered in Rwanda development Board.
“We had the biggest growth of tourism at $ 490 million dollars in 2019 and so 2020 for us we started very excited thinking it’s going to be a sustained high performance on the economy on tourism and investment and then of course COVID 19 happened and the picture is not as we had expected in January of this year, we expect the economy to contract by point 2% that’s the latest projection from IMF” Akamanzi explains.
The contractions on the economy will happen because of the tough decisions that the government had to take in order to contain COVID 19 which was important.
“And so, we’ve seen that the tough decisions that slowed down the economy helped manage better COVID 19 and we’re very encouraged when we see how Rwanda is being viewed by the rest of the world in terms of the pandemic control.
COVID 19 has had a detrimental effect on the country’s economy where it has slowed down the existing economy and hit most the private sector and tourism while they are the cornerstone of Rwanda’s economy.
Such discussions are hopefully to play a role in reminding investors that Rwanda is still the best place to bring investment as a fresh and growing market destination.525