Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is calling upon investors to tap into East Africa, saying the region is better placed for investment.
“East Africa is a good bet for investors who have come to appreciate the good prospects before everyone else does,” Kagame told over 350 investors attending a high level industry and investor forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, as part of the Central Corridor Initiative.
The initiative is a multi-modal trade and transport pathway through Rwanda, Tanzania, DRC, Burundi and Uganda.
Kagame however warned investors not to be complacent with the green pastures the region presents. “No investment is risk-free, all the positive trends and goodwill in the world do not guarantee success,” he said.
Kagame, who is nursing a diplomatic spat with his Tanzania counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete, has not traveled toTanzania for the past two years following a sour fallout in 2013.
He said the region’s projects will not prosper without collaborative leadership by East African leaders.
Political pundits had urged that Kagame and Kikwete’s fallout was hindering regional integration and stability.
Kikwete, who was in Rwanda on March 8 for the 9th Northern Corridor Integration Projects summit, has since 2013 occasionally avoided several regional meetings.
He recently assumed the rotational chairmanship of the EAC bloc, a position that requires him to attend all high-level meetings.
Kagame said that for initiatives of this scale and importance, such as the Central Corridor, require engaged leadership.
“We need to set the agenda, communicate it and build the mutually-beneficial public-private partnerships to get things done,” he said. “We know what to do, we know who can do it. Fortunately, almost everyone who is needed to bring this vision to fruition is here today.”
Rwanda has high stakes in these projects. The landlocked country relies on the central corridor for imports.
According to Trade Minister Francois Kanimba, an estimated total of 23,659 trucks crossed Rusumo border, Eastern Rwanda, carrying goods worth $1 billion annually, compared to 18,380 trucks carrying goods worth $845 millionthrough Gatuna, on the Northern Corridor, connecting Rwanda to Uganda.
The central corridor combines both railway and road networks that link the port of Dar es Salaam to landlocked countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Eastern DRC.