By Mugume D Rwakaringi
Barely a decade and a half after a turmoil that led to genocide which led to about 1000.000 losing their lives and the breakdown in all sectors of development, Rwanda’s economy and Investment climate has had a steady development. The recent Doing Business report conducted by World Bank ranked Rwanda as the best business reformer, after jumping spectacular 76 places to establish herself among the 100 best reformers at the 67th position.
Rwanda President: Paul Kagame:
People who have got a chance of visiting Rwanda have admitted that the Country is well endowed with natural beauty especially the nature of Rwanda’s mountains, its climate is also a remarkable one; blessed with a relatively cold climate-not so cold though, no wonder Rwanda has been termed as the Switzerland of Africa.
This is evidenced by a wide variety of wildlife. The Volcanoes National Park, in northern Rwanda is home to the world’s largest number of endangered mountain gorillas. Numbering in the hundreds, the gorillas live in a protected area, free from poachers.
The Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda is crowded with wildlife both large and the hospitable people who have a great respect for foreigners.
It is however not this natural beauty that has led to Rwanda’s steady growth but rather the political climate for example of no tolerance to corruption, Transparency International recently recognized Rwanda’s strong commitment to fighting corruption.
It has however not been easy for this land locked Country. In 1999, the Rwandan economy stagnated due to a combination of factors, including the increase in world oil prices, a decrease in world coffee prices.
Recently while Rwanda’s President H.E Paul Kagame remarked that for Africa to attract more business and move forward in its on-going transformation, the continent must embrace good governance that promotes accountabiltility. This singles out that Graft has been the major hindrance to Africa’s development and Investment attraction.
Surprisingly even with the present World economic crisis, Rwanda has had a stable growth quoting a GDP of almost double figures (9%) in the last quarter with per capita incomes for individual Rwandans growing above $500.
Rwanda introduced major reforms in several areas, according to Doing Business 2009. It streamlined construction permitting for the second year in a row by combining the applications for location clearance and a building permit in a single form and introducing a single application form for water, sewerage, and electricity connections. This reduced both the number of procedures and the time required for dealing with construction permits.
The time and cost to register a property also fell. A new fixed registration fee was introduced, and centralization of the tax service reduced the time to obtain a certificate of good standing, the report noted.
Rwanda facilitated trade by extending the opening hours of the customs border offices, implementing an electronic data interchange system, and introducing risk-based inspections. Together with growth in the transport sector, this reduced the time to export by five days and the time to import by 27 days—a 40 percent reduction.
Finally, commercial courts began operating in three locations, in Kigali and in the Northern and Southern Provinces, making it easier to enforce contracts.
The Rwanda Investment Capacity which is facilitating improvement in doing business by supporting efficient enforcement of contracts, registration of property and starting a business was allocated Rwf11.9bn (approx. US $ 20 million for a three-year programme designed to reduce the cost and risk of doing business in the country.
The condusive investement climate is paying dividends to Rwanda with a number of reputable companies such as Equity Bank, Prime Bank, Kencall, Nation Media Group and Contour Global company which is ready to invest up to USD 300 million in the energy sector willing to start investing in the Country as early as 2010.
Rwanda’s development according to Vincent Karega, Rwandan Minister of State in charge of trade and investment is not a one’s man show but a combination of all people from different areas of Rwandan society: central and local government technicians, representatives of the private sector and civil society.
Rwanda has seen a dramatic rise in investment inflows, according to the World Investment Report (WIR) 2009. The report released recently said that inflow increased from $16m in 2006 to $67m in 2007 and $103m last year, surpassing for the first time giant Kenya only one position better than fragile-post conflict Burundi that attracted only $1m in foreign investment.
Although Rwanda’s economic structure is characterized by an overwhelming majority of population being employed in agriculture which is limited by scarcity of land, Rwanda’s friendly industrial policy has contributed to the general improvement of Rwanda’s economy.
With the scarce land problem, the government intervened by intensification, land consolidation, fertiliser application, introduction of good variety of seeds and an intensified terracing exercise programs which have yielded remarkable dividends.
The Minister’s advice should not be only for Rwanda, a country with a significant development despite the limited resources available but should be a message for all Africa and for every individual as we strive to attain the MDGs in 2015. With everyone’s effort towards attaining development implemented, then Obama’s slogan “Yes we can”-Develop, can be achieved.