In October 2014 DMA hosted a highly successful trade and investment forum in London for Rwanda. At that forum the pledge was made to follow up the investor interest created with a trade mission to Rwanda to enable investors to have further discussions with government ministers and officials.
A little over four months on, and the trade mission became a reality. Nearly 50 persons, representing some 35 companies and organisations joined hosts DMA and the Eastern Africa Association for a three day visit to Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. For many of the companies it was a first visit and everyone was visibly struck by the structure, cleanliness efficiency – and indeed safety – of the capital. As one delegate observed, “Kigali is like discovering Switzerland in Africa.” And recent statistics back up the observation. Rwanda has been an African and a global success story not only in terms of its high growth rates over many years but also in terms its ranking as one of the best countries in Africa for the ease of doing business. Perhaps the most telling statistic for businesses worried about sending their employees and their families overseas, however, is that in 2014 Kigali was identified by Gallup as the second safest city in the world for women.
The mission held plenary meetings with a wide variety of ministers and officials, including from the departments for Finance, Agriculture, Energy, Infrastructure, Mining, Tourism and Natural Resources. The CEO and COO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) spelled out not simply the successes Rwanda has achieved to date and the plans going forward, but also the priority projects for Rwanda over the next 12-24 months. The British High Commission was on hand to explain how it could provide support to future UK investors, while the EU ambassador and the IMF resident representative added their observations on the development of the country.
Over the following two days many companies then attended specific one-to-ones with the various ministries with a view to exploring future partnerships and investments. Visits were also made to businesses already operating in the country to see at first hand what has been achieved. Some R&R was not forgotten, with hotel receptions hosted by both the Eastern Africa Association and DMA while EU ambassador Michael Ryan kindly invited the delegation to his residence in the hills above Kigali. More soberingly, many delegates paid a visit to Kigali’s Genocide Memorial museum. This in its own way provides further evidence of how far Rwanda has come from the unimaginable horrors and destruction of a people and an economy only 20 years ago to the dynamic, secure and business focused society which is Rwanda today. All was made more poignant by the fact that the delegation stayed in the Hotel Des Milles Collines, the actual site of the story depicted in the film, Hotel Rwanda.
DMA would like to extend our thanks to the team at the Rwanda Development Board, led by CEO Francis Gatare and COO Clare Akamanzi, to the other Ministers and Permanent Secretaries who gave their time to brief the delegation, to the Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK and the British High Commission team in Kigali for their sterling support work, to the team at the Eastern Africa Association for bringing many of the delegates – and to the delegates themselves without whom the visit would not have been possible and for whom the capital and the country proved such a revelation. And a special thank you to Mineral Supply Africa and Made in Kigali both of whom sponsored the very memorable closing gala reception.