The previous decade has done Rwanda so well getting the country to achieve some of the things that none would have dreamed for a nation a terrible genocide history, like lifting a million natives from poverty in just five years. The above mentioned and many other achievements all directed to the attainment of economic development and are leading the country to middle income status as stipulated by the Vision2020 meant to economically transform Rwandans.
As set in the goals of Vision2020, Rwanda’s development is to be achieved faster through attracting more investments both locally and internationally, which investments should be turned into projects and thus boost national exports. To the above end, the Rwanda Development Board, the institution charged with attracting investments through vigorous marketing of the country’s good business climate recently announced its half year results; with an over 96 percent achievement of the envisaged investment numbers for the year 2013. Having set the annual target for 2013 at US$1.3 billion, the past six months saw Rwanda register investments worth US$1.256 billion.
Top in the sectors that attracted highest values of investments was energy, ICT and construction. These sectors also represent the priority areas that are to enhance economic transformation according to Rwanda’s development agenda. They attracted US$335million, 306million and 417million respectively in the first half of 2013.Leading deals in the priority sectors that were attracted in the particular period are the Turkish Peat-power energy generation deal (Hakan) of US$353million that was concluded and implementation is underway, the Korea Telecom deal of 300million in the ICT sector and the Rwanda Social Security Board’s vision city construction project of over US$200million.
Increasing capital inflow in the three sectors in addition to agribusiness and agriculture in general is a good sign for the future of the Rwandan economy considering that these particular areas are what the country’s development roadmap towards Vision2020 is focused upon. “Interesting about the attracted investments is that they are in the priority sectors for Rwanda’s development. These sectors are highly important for the creation of jobs and for boosting the country’s potential in increasing the quality and quantity of products available for exportation,” Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s Acting Chief Executive Officer offered during the announcement of the half year results.
South Africa’s Liquid Telecom is also among the big contracts that were won in the ICT sector. The tree sectors are also the leading job creators in the country. The figures for Rwanda’s exports in the last six months are also promising and showing that the country’s future might be heading for a better sail. For instance in the period under review, exports grew by over 45.5 percent. This represents an increase from US$165million to 241million comparing the same period last year. The growth is above the annual average rate of 28 percent that the trade is expected to grow by if Rwanda is to achieve its targeted export goals by 2020.
Leading in exports for the first half of 2013 was coffee which was reported have grown by 131 percent. According to the Acting Head of Trade and Manufacturing Department at RDB Eusebe Muhikira, the increase in coffee exports resulted from a stressed focus on processing of Rwanda’s raw products. “We are focusing on improving the quality of the coffee that we sell on international markets instead of exporting raw coffee beans. This is what will help us to gain more from our produce,” Muhikira scored adding that the government is planning to build a coffee roasting factory in the near future to further enhance export of processed coffee.
Besides coffee, re-exports increased the export value in the first half of the year. it implies Rwandans are engaging more in middlemen activities in the chain of distribution importing goods from elsewhere and reselling them to neighboring markets. These particular exports grew by 61 percent compared to the same period in 2012. In the service sector, Rwanda’s exports continue to relay mainly on tourism since the other services’ role remains insignificant. Tourist numbers grew by 17 percent from 242,000 in the fast half of 2012 to 290,122 tourists and the highest increase was registered among business tourists. People who travel to Rwanda for business purposes and conferences and end up spending some of their money in tourism activities increased and by the end of May they were making up to 41.9 percent of the total tourists numbers recorded.
However for a country that targets to accelerate the services industry, there is still a long way to achieving that; considering that only tourism services are attracting revenue to date. Akamanzi scored that in EDPRSII, the government and RDB in particular is going to focus on improving the service industry specifically financial, health and education services among others so that they can grow to exportable level. “We want to breakthrough in the exportation of services mainly in health, financial services and education. We are going to work at attracting more investments in this particular industry so that we can reach our presumed goals for the services sector.” Rwanda targets to become a service knowledge-based economy by the year 2020.
In lobbying investors to wake up to the many opportunities that abound in the services sector, RDB recently organized the first ever service investors forum which brought together over 200 individuals from in and out of Rwanda to discuss the challenges the industry faces and the opportunities thereof. This according to Akamanzi targeted to interest the potential investors to initiate projects in the service industry in the country. By and large, Rwanda’s waters in the first half of the year were safe but as the year proceeds the challenge that RDB and other development focused institutions face is to ensure that the registered projects go through the implementation stage and ultimately become operational in order to make a more realistic impact on the economic output of Rwanda.
Historically, the realization of registered projects has been high. For investments registered in the last three years which are over 400 projects, 88 percent have reached the implementation stage while 48 percent are already operational.