On Monday 20th January President Paul Kagame attended the UK-Africa Investment Summit where he began the day with a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The President then took part on a panel session on trade and investment alongside Presidents Peter Mutharika of Malawi and Alpha Condé of Guinea, as well as the UK Secretary for International Trade, Liz Truss.
With months to the commencement of the operationalization of the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), set for July this year, President Kagame said that Rwanda and Africa have made ample preparations in readiness for the new era.
Kagame said that the AfCFTA has now become a reality following the efforts and political commitment of African leaders who contributed to its fruition.
“The AfCFTA has become a reality. That means political will on the part of the leaders who came together to put this in place. This came supporting the efforts and quest for regional integration that we have always sought to achieve,” he said.
He said that there was optimism that the implementation of the agreement would change the tide for the continent and is expected to drive trade up by up to 50 per cent.
“Statistics show that Intra African trade is going to go up by up to 50 per cent. This is a huge opportunity which Rwanda and other African countries have been prepared to benefit from as well as contribute to,” he said.
With the huge benefits expected from the implementation of AfCFTA, Kagame noted that Rwanda has been investing in building necessary capacities to drive trade and investment such as improving ease of doing business.
“On our side we have all along been investing in capacity to be able to trade and attract investment. World Bank ranks Rwanda among the top countries where there is ease of doing business, we are number two in Africa,” he said.
The implementation of AfCFTA will among other things see Rwanda gain access to a larger African market on ideal terms by exporting and importing duty-free from more African countries.
With Rwanda pushing to increase local production through the Made in Rwanda initiative, the agreement presents a huge opportunity for Rwanda to access a market of 1.2bn people
Studies estimate that reducing intra-African tariffs under AfCFTA could bring $3.6 billion additional income to the continent through a boost in production and cheaper goods.
On the sidelines of the summit, Rwanda launched the first Rwandan Franc denominated bond listed on the London Stock Exchange, with an equivalent value of $40 million.
Monday’s high level summit brought together businesses, governments and international institutions from Africa and the UK to showcase and promote the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across the African continent.
Companies operating in Rwanda represented at the Summit included Bank of Kigali, Urwibutso, Mara Phones, Rwanda Finance Ltd (KIFC), Ampersand, Cogebanque, Africa Improved Foods, and Water Access Rwanda.
The UK is the second-largest foreign investor in Rwanda with $448 million invested in the last four years in different sectors.
During the visit to the UK President Kagame also held discussions with the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William at Buckingham Palace and delivered a speech at King’s College London.