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Rwanda: Country wooing US investors

Published date:
Friday, 23 November 2007

Rwanda is eyeing large investments from the world's most powerful economy-the United States of America - in spite of the high investment risks European and American entrepreneurs associate with Africa.

The commerce ministry (Minicom) is taking no chance here. At a high-level, the ministry has engaged the U.S. in meetings, under the terms of the June 2006 U.S. - Rwanda .

Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The first meeting was held here in Kigali last year in October. A delegation of seven officials comprised of Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (Riepa), Private Sector Federation (PSF) and Minicom representatives, led by Commerce minister Hon Protais Mitali flew to Washington DC last month for the second round of the meeting.

Both nations are buried in negotiations on the US-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty, cooperative efforts to promote greater U.S. investments in Rwanda, means to improve the business environment, trade capacity building and infrastructure among other critical issues.However, negotiations are still ongoing, with a target of fixing all plugs, and then have both parties append their signatures on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) that will hopefully attract concrete investments to Rwanda form the U.S.

Meanwhile, an impeccable source reveals that Riepa has been tasked to develop an action plan of investment opportunities relevant to American entrepreneurs enhanced by the BIT.

The plan will have to among other things, capture the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) Summit due for November 2007 in Cape Town, an outreach agenda to U.S. investors to explain the significance of the BIT and how the Rwandan Embassy in Washington will package information for potential U.S. investors.

In Washington, the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) announced that this year's U.S.-Africa Business Summit, which brings together American and African representatives from the private and public sectors, is scheduled to take place in Cape Town South Africa this month.

Arguments continue to loom that Rwanda has not satisfactorily benefited from the pretty competitive U.S. Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) market.

Minicom and Riepa through US-Rwanda BIT will have to develop an Agoa Action Strategy identifying specific sectors of special focus.

Export statistics obtained from Riepa indicate that pyrethrum exports to the U.S. increased from $0 in 2006 to $400,000 in the first eight months of 2007.

To further this pretty lucrative export commodity, Riepa will need to examine possibilities for value-added production of pyrethrum.

Although Rwanda has performed impressively in the World Bank Doing Business report rankings-having been ranked 150th in the most recent report, the Washington US-Rwanda agreed that Riepa and USAID will begin to implement a joint plan and programme to improve Rwanda's performance on the World Bank indicators. Specifically on labour, the U.S. Department of Labour will explore possible avenues of assistance related to improving Rwanda's performance on Labour issues.

Whereas the US department of Commerce with other agencies, will explore possible assistances to Rwanda on commercial law.

The Washington meeting also tabled how to make Rwanda's private sector more competitive to enhance better and more effective access to foreign markets.

In this regard, a need to brand Rwanda was raised. Rwanda was also advised to bolster awareness campaigns for U.S. business leaders to know more about Rwanda and the business opportunities available.

And, to eliminate "fly-by-night" investors, Riepa was urged to ensure that American business leaders who visit Rwanda conclude tangible deals. Americans are impressed with Rwanda's vision on ICT.

They are particular about expediting the EASSY Project of the fiber optic cable which will connect Rwanda to the sub-marine cable cutting costs of internet and telecommunications-related technology.

The short supply of energy in Rwanda, like most African nations has rendered it costly and thus doing business very expensive.

But, the country believes short supply of energy is an investment opportunity in itself. In Washington, American business leaders were encouraged to consider investing in this area.

PSF, in its 2007-2010 strategic plan priorities building capacities of Rwandan entrepreneurs through training programmes, to become more competitive.

Cisco Systems, in Washington, promised to work with the federation in rolling out an ICT entrepreneurship training program, as part of its corporate philanthropy.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Rwanda’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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