By Leon Louw founder and editor of WhyAfrica
30 May 2021 – French executives accompanying President Macron on his two-day visit to Rwanda, have identified the country as one of the top growth prospects in Africa. WhyAfrica’s Hawks Eye is on Rwanda over the next two years.
Accompanying French President Emmanuel Macron on his recent visit to Rwanda, during which he apologised for the role of France in the genocide of 1994, was a delegation of 15 French business executives representing major French based companies. All these executives expressed interest in expanding their footprint into Rwanda. They represented companies in the health sector, transport and logistics, energy, ICT and agriculture.
French companies might have an inside lane, but since the early 2000s Rwanda has been one of the major attractions for global investors in Africa. Although Covid-19 has dealt Rwanda a bad hand, as it has the rest of the world, Rwanda’s gains before Covid-19 will undoubtedly continue in the wake of the global pandemic. Although the country is landlocked, its geographic location makes it the ideal springboard into the Great Lakes region of East and Central Africa.
Attempts to improve security
Relations between Rwanda and its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are better since President Fѐlix Tshisekedi took office in January 2019. If they manage to cooperate, it will boost security efforts in the whole region, especially in the eastern parts of the DRC, where Rwanda, and Kagame, has an immense influence.
It is expected that Rwanda will intensify its operations against rebel groups active in the region, especially those that have targeted Kigali in the past. A boost to security in the entire region will go a long way in mitigating many of the risks that have kept international investments at bay.
President Paul Kagame often needs to put out fires about his autocratic rule, but the country’s political and economic standing has improved so much since the atrocious genocide in 1994, that Rwanda is often referred to as the “Switzerland” of Africa. Rumours about Kagame abound, but until now, Rwanda has followed and upward trajectory, and is expected to do so in the future.
Before Covid-19 Rwanda’s GDP growth was continually high, but there are still concerns about the poverty levels in the country, especially after the Covid-19 blow.
Although the tourism industry in Rwanda took a massive hit because of Covid-19, the imminent return to international travel will boost Kigali’s growth immensely. Prior to the global pandemic freeze, tourism in Rwanda was on a non-stop growth path.
Its scenic hills are not only fertile for agriculture, but the indigenous forests protected by the growing number of national parks and nature reserves hosts unique wildlife not found in many other tourism destinations in Africa, amongst others the Silverback gorilla.
Tourism arrivals tallied 1.7 million in 2018 and it continued rising into 2019 before Covid-19 put a stop to international flights. The launch of a new airport at Kigali will boost arrivals and business in the country. Several new hotels are expected to open their doors in the next few years, while the national airline, although hard hit by the pandemic, hopes to have increased its fleet size significantly by 2025.
Kigali is hoping to attract tech companies to the city and its goal is to become a major tech hub. In addition, the Ministry of Mines is on a drive to lure potential investors to Rwanda. The country hosts a few good deposits of tin, tungsten, cobalt and coltan. Agriculture is a huge sector in Rwanda and suppliers and service providers in the agri-business and logistic sectors will find the country almost irresistible. President Kagame has been business friendly throughout his tenure, and it is expected that Rwanda will become even more pro-business to eradicate the adverse effects of the Coronavirus in the immediate future. Keep an eye on Rwanda.
Leon Louw is the founder and editor of WhyAfrica. He specialises in natural resources and African affairs.
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