Chinese Investors Eye Rwanda’S Real Estate, Manufacturing Sectors

Chinese investors have expressed interest in the country’s manufacturing and real estate sectors, as well as the ongoing regional infrastructure projects, according to Yvette Umutoni, the head of investments at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Umutoni said the investors representing over 50 Chinese firms have already met with their Rwandan counterparts and pledged to leverage on the country’s good investment climate to scaleup investments in these sectors.

“They said they would take full advantage of the business reforms and new investment code which was recently unveiled by RDB to inject more money into these sectors,” she said.

Han Jun, the president of the East Africa Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said they are looking to build a strong trade link that will help attract more Chinese investors into the country and the region as a whole.

“The idea is to create a strong platform to boost both bilateral and economic relationships,” Jun said during the East Africa China business summit in Kigali, yesterday.

This was the first time this regional event was being hosted in Rwanda. The move according to Francis Gatare, the chief executive officer of RDB, will help increase Chinese investments in the country.

Rwanda has registered over $170 million worth of Chinese investments in the past five years. Last year, trade between Rwanda and China increased by over 50 per cent to $240m (about Rwf164.4b) year-on-year.

Rwanda’s exports to china mainly include tea and minerals. However, the trade is largely dominated by the Chinese.

Therefore, the increasing Chinese investments in the country could help change the trend besides boosting Rwanda’s foreign direct investments.

“This movement of capital and goods between the two countries comes with alternative ways of doing business, which could help spur regional economic growth and in Rwanda in particular,” the RDB chief explained.

Chinese business co-operation with Africa and Rwanda, in particular, is mainly constructed on trade, engineering, construction, investment and development assistance.

According to Gatare, the two countries now need to look beyond trade and embrace more sustainable investments that would create more jobs and fight poverty.

Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairman Private Sector Federation (PSF), said they are working to support their members to tap into the opportunities presented by the growing trade between the two countries.

“We have noticed the significant growth of Chinese investments in Rwanda. We want to use that to create a strong base to grow trade between the two countries,” Gasamagera said.

Already, some local investors have taken advantage of the existing trade ties between the two countries to expand their businesses.

Norbert Haguma, chief executive officer of Afroreint Group based in Hong Kong, said the firm links investors, as well as students from the two countries to work together in the areas of trade, human resource development and education.

And for the past few decades, China has been a home to investments especially in the manufacturing sector.

The Chinese have increased presence in Africa, and are playing a key role in infrastructure development across the continent.