All is set for the inaugural Rwanda and Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference, which roars into life on Monday next week in Kigali.
It runs up to Thursday, September 30, 2021.
Initially, the conference was set to be held in March last year but was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Several businesses from Zimbabwe have lined up for the conference which will unpack trade and investment opportunities in Rwanda’s fast-growing economy.
Cabinet ministers and senior government officials will be part of the delegation from Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), the country’s investment agency responsible for promoting and facilitation of both local and foreign investment, wants to strengthen relations with the Rwanda Development Board.
“We are learning from Rwanda,” ZIDA chief executive officer Douglas Munatsi told Business Times.
He added: “We are not ashamed to learn from Rwanda even if it’s a smaller country in many respects. They have demonstrated the ability to run a world class institution.”
Zimbabwe’s national trade development and promotion body, ZimTrade CEO, Allan Majuru said the conference will enhance trade between Rwanda and Zimbabwe which at the moment is paltry.
“The main idea is to increase awareness between the two countries in terms of the trade opportunities that are there. If you look at the trade statistics between Rwanda and Zimbabwe, the numbers are very insignificant and we want to change this narrative through this conference,” Majuru said.
He added: “We are hoping to open warehouses in Rwanda for us to penetrate into the East African region so that we create a market presence for goods and services. So we want to go beyond Rwanda.”
Rwanda Ambassador to Zimbabwe James Musoni said the ground breaking trade and investment conference is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
“The conference will establish a solid network for trade and investment interactions and promote a market-led approach and ascertain the trade and investment opportunities that are available in both countries,” Musoni said.
Apart from the visit to some key business establishments in Kigali, the conference will also include the signing of Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) in different fields of cooperation, presentations on trade and investment opportunities, discussions on trade and investment, business to business sessions for both government and business executives as well as golf tournament at the end of the conference.
Musoni said the conference will strengthen bilateral relations and result in the establishment of networks for trade and investment by the business community of both countries.
The conference will result in a deeper understanding of the business environment from the two sister countries, signing of MoUs between the Government of Rwanda and the Government of Zimbabwe; signing of MoU on cooperation between private sectors of both countries and developing work plans for implementation of MoUs expected to be signed. The conference will also schedule a similar conference to be held in Zimbabwe.
“The organisers consider the conference as one of the key tools that will play a significant role in strengthening bilateral cooperation and stimulating business partnership between the two countries,” Musoni said.
Rwanda’s fast growing economy offers vast opportunities for Zimbabwe businesses in several sectors such as infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, tourism, information and communication technologies, real estate and construction.
There are also opportunities in financial services, mining, agro- processing, education, health services, packaging, iron and steel products, poultry value chain (stock feeds, eggs, chicks, layers and broilers), tyre sales and service chains.
Other sectors that offer opportunities include supermarket retail chains, restaurant and fast food chains, bricks manufacturing, roofing sheets manufacturers, and TV and radio production.
According to the latest data by the National Institute of Statics in Rwanda, in the second quarter of 2021, GDP was estimated at US$2.7bn compared to US$2.2bn in the same quarter of 2020.
The rebound in economic activity was largely driven by the service sector, which accounts for 47% of GDP. Agriculture and industry account for 25% and 19% of GDP respectively. In the second quarter of 2020, the economy had contracted by -12.4% owing to the impacts of Covid-19.
The International Monetary Fund predicts that Rwanda’s economy will grow by 5.7% this year.
Rwanda is also the gateway to the East African Community which has a combined GDP of about US$200bn. Rwanda is a key route to access the Democratic Republic of Congo market with a population of about 93m and a GDP of US$50.4bn.
The eastern DRC economy depends on Rwanda for goods and services.
Lots of activities are lined up for the conference participants including a golf tournament, city tour, company visits and closed business to business sessions designed for match making. Strict Covid-19 preventative measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of participants.