The seminar to create awareness of the business opportunities available in the two countries brought together over 200 participants. It was also attended by Ambassador of Rwanda to Zimbabwe James Musoni, Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke together with high level officials from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZimTrade) among others.
Zimbabwe is a Southern Africa country covering a land area of 390,757 square kilometers. The population demographic survey conducted in 2012 shows that the country’s population was estimated at over 13.1 million of whom 94, 7% are reported to be literate.
Tourism is among main contributors to the country’s economic growth with 12% along with agriculture (11%) and mining (9%) while the service sector contributed 16%.
While addressing Rwanda- Zimbabwe Trade and Investment virtual conference, the CEO of RDB, Clare Akamanzi explained that both countries enjoy existing relations and cooperation in different areas that building relationships upon trade and investment is the current priority.
Akamanzi lured investors from Zimbabwe to tap into presented opportunities in different sectors including trade and agriculture among others.
“Energy, agriculture, trade, hospitality and hotels and financial sector are areas with top investment opportunities in the country,” she revealed.
Akamanzi emphasized that the country registered remarkable economic growth in 2019 by 9.4% before COVID-19 pandemic.
“Rwanda continues to position itself as a proof-of-concept country for innovations. This is why we were able to attract some of the investments we have in the country like an assembling plant for Volkswagen, Zipline which is doing delivery of blood using drone,” she said.
As he highlighted the relevance of promoting cooperation between both countries, the CEO of ZimTrade Allan Majuru said there has been an insignificant trade between Rwanda and Zimbabwe noting that the investment conference is set to unlock various opportunities of trade between the two countries.
In Rwanda, agriculture accounts for 24% of the economy while industries and services contribute 18% and 49% respectively.
The fact that Rwanda is a member of EAC exposes Zimbabwe to a wider East African market with over 117 million population not considering the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC which has also submitted application to join the regional bloc.
Majuru stressed that another meeting is planned in the near future where quite a big number of business people from Zimbabwe will come to Rwanda in a conference expected to increase trade and investment between both countries.
“ZimTrade will be taking 100 companies to Rwanda for this investment conference and we will stand guided by our hosts on the numbers with regards to the Covid-19 protocols. The delegation travelling will be led by Foreign Affairs Minister Shava. We believe the trade between Rwanda and Zimbabwe has been insignificant and this investment conference will play a huge part in unlocking investment opportunities between the two countries,” Majuru said.
“We are also trying not to look for trading opportunities but we are also looking at creating a platform where Rwanda uses Zimbabwe as a platform to extend its services to countries this side of the region. We might be called landlocked as Zimbabwe but we call ourselves land linked and the same applies to Rwanda,” he added.
The Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference is slated from July 28 to 30 in Kigali, Rwanda.
Speaking to participants, the CEO of RDB Claire Akamanzi said that Rwanda is ready to welcome the business delegation from Zimbabwe.
“We have been working together as two countries. We are ready to welcome the business delegation coming from Zimbabwe. We hope this conference is going to increase trade between the two countries as well as new investment opportunities,” she noted.
Akamanzi reiterated Rwanda’s commitment continue offering a conducive environment for investment on a market with high economic growth rate.
Investors also expressed willingness to tap into presented opportunities.
“This cooperation presents huge opportunities to both sides. We are ready to facilitate the shipment of cargo from Rwanda to Zimbabwe and vice versa,” said Michael Shyaka, the Managing Director of Pan African Logistics.
Benson Mbewe, the CEO of AB Communications which owns media houses including Business Times, ZiFM Stereo, 98.4 FM Midlands and Hevoi FM highlighted that such meetings are crucial to expand opportunities.
“This is going to be a wonderful experience for the business community and we are still finalizing conference packages at the moment,” he noted.
Rwanda and Zimbabwe are both members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) where both countries stand to benefit from reduced customs duties.
Zimbabwe is also a member of South African Development Community (SADC).
Rwanda has vast opportunities for Zimbabwean businesses wishing to do trade and to invest in its fast-growing economy while Zimbabwe is keen on growing its exports to Rwanda with market survey results by ZimTrade, indicating that locals could ride on this destination to generate more earnings.
In 2019, Zimbabwe generated US$3 million from exports while Rwanda earned US$152,000 from exports to the country.
Increasing trade with Rwanda is expected to enhance access to markets in the East African Community and in turn, increase Zimbabwe’s exports to the region with a combined GDP of more than US$177bn.