Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente says that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a valuable partner in the country’s economic journey, with trade between two countries growing ten-fold between 2010 and 2020, and almost three-fold from 2018 to 2020.
According to Dr. Ngirente, currently UAE is Rwanda’s leading trade partner with close to $900 million in total trade as of 2020. He pointed out that trade with the UAE accounted for almost 20% of Rwanda’s trade globally in 2020.
“Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates have had long-standing historical ties which have been strengthened over time. Today, we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, with trade and investment growing over the last years,” Dr. Ngirente said.
“Building on this existing partnership, it is important to continue creating platforms such as this Business Forum to collectively share insights and opportunities that will enhance the trade and investment between our two countries,” the Premier added.
He made the observation at the ongoing Rwanda Business Forum held as part of the activities to mark Rwanda National Day at the ongoing Dubai Expo 2020. The forum will run from 2nd to 3rd February 2022.
The celebration of National day and Rwanda Business Forum will be marked by both Rwanda and UAE pavilions and meetings on investment and partnership opportunities in Rwanda. The event targets showcasing business opportunities in the country and fostering partnerships between local and international investors.
According to Dr. Ngirente, the government has taken a bold and ambitious approach to the country’s development- aspiring to become an upper middle-income economy by 2035 and a high-income country by the year 2050.
He added that Rwanda’s growth trajectory shows that the country is positioned to achieve these high growth targets.
“However, Rwanda like the rest of the world was not spared from the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pre-covid-19 economic growth trend was disrupted and pushed down to a contraction of 3.4% in 2020 from 9.5% growth rate in 2019,” Dr. Ngirente noted.
Besides the challenges, Prime Minister indicated that the country observed a remarkable growth rate recovery estimated at 10.2% and targets more recovery, projected at 7.2% in 2022 and 7.9% in 2023.
“With these growth projections, we are at a point now where we are starting to look past the pandemic and towards the reconstruction and recovery of our economy,” he said.
The ongoing Rwanda Business forum in Dubai also targets Investment promotion, export and tourism promotion– especially through the Visit Rwanda brand – business-to-business meetings and Government to Government meetings are some of the intended purposes of the forum.
Rwanda government agencies featured in this high-profile forum include Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Finance Limited, Rwanda Mining Board, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of ICT and Innovation.
“First, the private sector will remain key to building resilient, sustainable, and inclusive growth. We really believe in Private sector as a government,” Dr. Ngirente said.
“Private investments, including Foreign Direct Investments, will play an increasingly important role in sustainably bridging the financing gap for our country’s development.”
According to Dr. Ngirente, the government will focus on attracting anchor investments that will create industry ecosystems and new market opportunities for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Rwanda has been in partnership with UAE in various things including exportation of horticultural products in the Carrefour hypermarket in January 2021.
A hypermarket is a very large supermarket with a department store — a large store divided into departments offering a wide range of consumer goods.
According to Carrefour hypermarket and supermarkets website, the entity operates in 30 countries across The Middle East, Africa and Asia. With its 320 stores, it serves more than 750,000 customers daily.
The National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) figures indicate that Rwanda exported 31,788 tonnes of horticulture commodities including vegetables, fruits, flowers in various countries and collected about Rwf27 billion during the fiscal year 2019/20.
Rwanda targets $130 million from horticulture exports by 2024, according to NAEB.