Rwanda may be a small country of some 12 million people, but its
membership in the East African Community provides it with a market
of some 100 million. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS
By Mantoe Phakathi
MBABANE , Jun 17 2020 (IPS)
In its effort to accelerate Rwanda’s green growth development
initiative, its local businesses encouraged their Italian
counterparts to invest in the East Africa region.
In a virtual discussion, the director of operations at the
Private Sector Federation (PSF) of Rwanda, Yosam Kiiza, said
Rwanda’s strength lies with its membership with the East African
Community (EAC). The EAC is composed of five countries and has a
population of over 100 million people.
“This means that investing in Rwanda is an opportunity to
export to the rest of the other member countries as well as the
Great Lakes Region,” he said.
Rwanda also shares a border with the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) whose population is 80 million. Although the DRC is not
yet a member of the EAC, it provides a vast market for its smaller
neighbour, Rwanda, which has a population of 12 million.
Two webinars, organised by the Global Green Growth Institute
(GGGI) in partnership with Rwanda Environment Management Authority
(REMA) as part of an agreement between the Italian and Rwandan
ministries of environment, were held this month. The online
discussions were aimed at facilitating green technology transfer
and creating partnerships between companies from Italy and
Kiiza was speaking during the Jun. 10
webinarthat targeted major stakeholders, such as institutions,
entrepreneurs, investors, developers etc., who have a key role in
the green growth and sustainable development of their countryâ€™s
economy in both Italy and Rwanda.
Through its transformation to low carbon development and green
growth, Rwanda is a minefield of opportunities. The first webinar was
held on Jun. 03.
In the virtual discussion, REMA Deputy Director-General Faustin
Munyazikwiye urged business people to embrace green investment to
help the country meet its climate action plan and achieve its
Vision 2050 â€” Rwandaâ€™s growth plan to achieve high-income
Meanwhile, Kiiza said the PSF is keen on investments that will
deliver green growth solutions primarily in public health, air
quality, and environmental restoration as well as creating
sustainable jobs in tourism, transport, agriculture and
â€œThe Italian business community is ready for the challenge,â€
the President of the Small Industry of Assolombarda, Alessandro
Enginoli, said. A study tour of 30 Italian companies â€“ he
continued â€” was planned for March. The tour, organised in
cooperation with GGGI and the Italian Trade Agency, was cancelled
because of travel bans implemented by both governments to curb the
spread of COVID-19. However, said Enginoli, â€œIâ€™m confident we
can do it again as soon as possible, probably in October.â€
He said the dialogue between the two federations, Assolombarda
and PSF, started a year ago when he first visited Rwanda.
Assolombarda is the regional private sector association from
Lombardia Region and a member of the National Private Sector
Federation, Confidustria. It is the largest industrial association
in Italy, representing 7,500 companies. The Small Industries
represents 4,500 companies with a turnover of about â‚¬32
â€œItaly is known for its high concentration of small and medium
companies,â€ he said, adding: â€œThis model is perfect for African
needs. The Italian business model is a win-win model that creates
local development and job creation.â€
Absolute Energy, an independent investment platform focused on
renewable energy, is already pursuing a path of affordable energy
in Rwanda. According to Absolute Energy chief executive officer,
Alberto Pisanti, energy is a means to development. He said
considering that agriculture is more developed compared to other
countries, closing the gap between the sector, water and energy is
the way to go.
Pisanti highlighted the gaps in agriculture such as the fact
that 70 percent of farm work in Africa is done manually, 90 percent
has no artificial irrigation and that the continent has 50 percent
of global uncultivated arable land and imports 66 percent of the
food it consumes.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot to do. Clearly you need machinery,
transformation, reduce waste and work as much as possible locally
to avoid people migrating to the cities thus abandoning rural
areas,â€ said Pisanti.
He said it was for that reason that his company believes in
rural electrification and decentralized generation is key
especially in countries like Rwanda. But there are challenges, he
said, adding that doing a business in a village that is too small
may not be viable.
Also sharing his experiences of running a business in Rwanda was
Giovanni Davite, co-owner and executive director of Kipharma, a
business started by his father in 1969. It now has a turnover of
â‚¬12 million. He described Rwanda as a stable yet fast-growing
country whose leadership has a strong vision. He warned though that
it requires patience.
â€œIf youâ€™re in business to do a quick buck, Rwanda is not for
you,â€ he said.
Other industries that made presentations include agriculture,
ecotourism, wood, construction and textile. Representations were
also made by by Daniele Kihlgren, President of Group Sextantio-DOM,
which focuses on sustainable tourism and Vicky Murabukirwa, a
senior partner from construction company Duval Great Lakes Ltd.
Diane Mukasahaha, the chairperson for the Apparel Manufacturing
Group (AMG), said she was grateful that the Government of Rwanda
banned the import of second-hand clothing because this has created
an opportunity for the local industry. She said this industry
creates a lot of jobs.
â€œIn just one year, AMG created 500 jobs,â€ she said.
Italian Ambassador to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, Massimiliano
Mazzanti, was pleased that the Embassy was involved in this
initiative and encouraged entrepreneurs who want to start their
business in Rwanda to avail themselves of the support of the
According to Claudia Beretta, who works on a project that is
focusing on private sector engagement with GGGI, the Government of
Rwanda does not leave out the word â€˜greenâ€™ when talking about
development. Responding to a question from IPS, Beretta said the
airport is a good example of linking development to
â€œItâ€™s the biggest infrastructure project and the objective
of the government is to have the greenest airport in Africa,â€ she
She said GGGI, an international organisation that assists
countries develop inclusive and sustainable economic growth, is
working closely with the government to make this vision a reality.
Beretta added that other opportunities exist in the renewable
energy sector which can contribute towards reducing post-harvest
losses. She said rural electrification through renewable energy
could help farmers with refrigeration systems that would keep
produce fresh until it reaches the market.
â€œThe majority of the population is using charcoal and wood to
cook and this is a big problem for the environment and health of
the population. The government is working towards supporting new
technologies and alternative fuels such as LPG,â€ she said.
Beretta noted that this is a challenge considering that buying
power for rural communities is low although this could be overcome
through business models that offer affordable energy.
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Why Rwanda is a Great Green Growth Investment