By Fidel Munyeshyaka

Researcher, GLCSS

Chinese investment and trade partnership with Rwanda is gaining momentum. Last week Chinese businessmen from the Shenzhen Chamber of International and Investment and Finance (SZAEFI) were in Rwanda to assess potential investment opportunities in the country.
The SZAEFI and officials of the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which the two countries agreed to cooperate in promoting and strengthening trade, investment and information technology (IT). The MOU also creates a Chinese area within Rwanda’s export processing zone, which will serve as a regional distribution and logistics centre for the Great Lakes.
According to the SZAEFI President Guo Xiao Hui, China will establish a technology showcase in Kigali Information and Communication Technology Park to facilitate technology and knowledge interchange and transfer. RIEPA officials disclosed that China Links—a Chinese mobile phone company–plans to establish a mobile phone assembling plant in Rwanda.
 RIEPA Communication Officer Linda Mutesi indicated that the mobile phone assembling plant in Rwanda will have a significant impact on the country’s economy. Other than the employment opportunities, the cost of mobile phones will be lowered hence enabling many Rwandans to purchase phones cheaply.
China is also focused on the infrastructure industries of Rwanda. Currently, Rwanda’s only cement factory– Rwandan Cement (CIMERWA)—lags behind Rwanda’s increasing demand. The exact scope of this investment has not been determined; however, the Chinese investors were the government’s original partners in CIMERWA and managed the facilities until July 2006.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the International (UNCTAD) Chamber of Commerce the Rwanda investment environment has shown considerable improvements. It issued an investment guideline calling Rwanda one of the most open environments for investment in Africa.
The guide says people willing to take a chance on Rwanda will find many opportunities for making money citing  agricultural production in coffee, tea, horticulture, floriculture and herbal products. The Director of UNCTAD’s Investment Division, Khalil Hamdani added that Rwanda has made significant progress in all sectors.

William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church at wchurch@glcss.org. GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-site internship to African studies students, and manages an exchange program with journalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.
GLCSS monitors the media for false or misleading news stories and publishes a weekly newsletter.
 

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