CEOs in Rwanda are ganging up against unfavourable cross-border trade policies within East African region.
A meeting in Kigali between members of the business community and their lobby organ, the Private Sector Federation, listed policies that hinder penetration into the EAC.
Deliberations from the meeting will be handed to President Paul Kagame who is expected to attend the 11th Northern Corridor Integration Projects summit this weekend, Saturday 17.
The Northern Corridor Integration projects brings together Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and recently admitted South Sudan.
The business community believes President Kagame will be able to make a case in their favour at the summit.
“For instance if Bank of Kigali wants to establish shop in Kenya or Uganda, you need to apply for a different license which is very expensive. A formulated policy on using one single license within the block should be implemented to ease doing business,” James Gatera, CEO of Bank of Kigali said.
Benjamin Gasamagera, the Chairman of the Federation, said the meeting was meant to discuss best approaches for advocacy and “addressing challenges our businessmen and women face within the region and issue our support in implementation of projects.”
Rwandan investors are not ready to stand and watch their counterparts in EAC take on big regional projects. Others from EAC have already set foot in Rwanda.
The business community in Rwanda is pushing the government to push partner states to extend similar treatment.
This is happening at a time when the Northern Corridor Integration seeks to accelerate the development of member states through shared infrastructure, trade, and allow for more political and economic integration of the bloc’s over 120 million population.
In December last year, Rwanda signed a landmark airspace deal to ease air transport within the block, slashing down flight fares by 40%. A deal worth $13.5 billion was signed to facilitate trade.
Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, already enjoy ID-enabled free movements of their citizens, and there is a single visa for tourists visiting any of the three countries. Rwanda is the custodian of the policy.
Apparently, a deal worth $2.5 million has been signed between Rwanda and an American investor to implement the e-migration project, set to be operational by November next year.
Meanwhile, at the summit, Rwandan businesses are expecting a broader discussion on policies meant to facilitate Public-Private-Partnership within the corridor.
Denis Karera, a Kigali-based investor and chairman of the East African Business Council said that “A policy needs to be adopted to enable private sector to get involved in the procurement process in order to fully implement projects.”