East Africa is a regular destination for London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Trade Missions with Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda providing the usual market stops. This year however Rwanda was selected for a trade visit. Mission manager Ruma Deb reports.
Last month marked LCCI’s and UKTI London’s first visit to Rwanda, hardly surprising given the fact that the country has not long recovered from a harrowing civil war. However research now shows that the economy is going from strength to strength, with annual GDP growth averaging a healthy eight per cent. This is forecast to continue, a positive sign that Rwanda is a market on the rise with huge potential.
The country’s Vision 2020 development strategy aims to transform the country from a low income agricultural-based economy to a service-orientated economy with plans to reduce non-tariff barriers, making Rwanda a favourable place for UK businesses in many industries.
Twelve companies and fifteen delegates joined the mission which visited both Rwanda and Tanzania and was led by LCCI deputy president Subhash Thakrar. Sectors covered included, solar energy, agriculture, social housing, lab equipment, manufacturing, education and training, scientific instruments and mining. Mission sponsors Sagewood Limited have a local representative office in Rwanda. The company have carried out extensive work at Kigali International Airport including the provision of check-in desks (pictured left) and weighing machines so fellow mission members were able to see their efforts at first hand as they flew in and out.
Welcoming the delegation to a business reception at his residence British High Commissioner William Gelling described Rwanda’s economy as attractive and one that investors believed was on the rise and full of potential. He was optimistic that the visiting businesses would do well and said: “They are so positive about what they have already seen in Rwanda. Their products are of high quality.” Mission leader Subhash Thakrar believed that Rwanda was a stable country “making big economic progress. It has a clean government, a clean city, and we will see greater things to come.”
In a busy programme mission members also met with DFID director general David Candy who was in the country for the first time to meet with agencies, and with the Rwanda Development Board and the Private Sector Federation. Nemish Mehta, the director and delegate from Prem Nem Limited, manufacturer of puncture-proof tyres, said that his company was in the country not just to make sales but also to help people with quality goods and services. “There are good prospects”, he said “but we have to be patient. It won’t happen overnight but there are lots of positives.”
Tanzania is more of a known quantity to British firms and this was our fourth visit in the last eight years. The country’s GDP growth has reached an average annual rate of seven per cent, leading to a steady rise of foreign direct investment over the past decade.
The UK has a strong business position in Tanzania and UK consumer goods are in high demand. Areas of growth include education, telecommunications and information technology, tourism, oil, gas and energy infrastructure, agribusiness and food processing, gold and diamond mining, health services, media and consultancy services and security. Five of the companies on the mission were linked with the renewable energy and oil and gas industries and all found interest in their products and services.
We held fruitful meetings in Dar es Salaam, the country’s commercial centre, with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Tanzania Investment Centre, the Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, and the Ministry of Energy and Minerals – Rural Energy Agency. Fifty local guests joined the group at a reception hosted by British High Commissioner Dianna Melrose whose trade team had been a valuable source of help before and during the visit. There is no doubt that with follow-up and continued interest both Tanzania and Rwanda can be sources of valuable business for all mission delegates.
Ruma Deb – Senior International Business Executive at LCCI