Rwanda is receiving bids from local investors who wish to develop the 60 hectares of land the country acquired in Djibouti.
The strategic 60 hectares sit on the shores of Indian Ocean and could possibly open a window for export and import goods handling in the Arab World.
Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and industry Vincent Munyeshyaka revealed the plan to develop the land while defending the draft laws authorizing ratification of trade agreements between Djibouti, Ethiopia and Morocco in Parliament on Monday.
The draft laws were all approved.
As far as Djibouti is concerned, the law comes after both countries signed an agreement concerning the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments in Djibouti in April last year.
In the agreement, Rwanda offered a 20 hectares plot of land located in Kigali Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to the state of Djibouti.
According to Munyeshyaka, a Chinese company Touch Road Group had previously been given part of the land, but when it did not walk the talk, Rwanda changed her mind, and invited local bidders.
Munyeshyaka said that the land is still open for foreign investors but some Rwandans have already shown interest.
“We found that it is not possible for the Chinese investor to do the job because he said he was not ready. We decided to look for another investor and already three Rwandan investors have expressed interest” Munyeshyaka said on Monday.
The three Rwandans whom Munyeshyaka did not want to mention names expressed interest to develop 40 hectares.
The remaining 20 hectares, said Munyeshyaka, have also been requested by Rwandans and now under review by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to evaluate their business plans and permits.
Meanwhile, the agreements with Ethiopia, Morroco and Djibouti provide for each country to have equal opportunity in trade, curb illegal trade and endorse a role based framework of doing business, setting up commissions on both sides to follow implementation and arbitrate conflict within a framework on both sides.
Parliament approved the draft laws with some of them passing without going to special commissions for further reviews before being re-tabled to the house floor for the ultimate vote.
On the trade agreement between Rwanda and Ethiopia, the latter is counting on learning from the Ethiopian experience of promoting locally produced and consumed goods which Rwanda has started in the Made-in-Rwanda policy.
On the Morocco deal, Rwanda aims at promoting trade and investment between two countries after the King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI signing 21 pact deals set into categories including; business, agriculture, politics, infrastructure, education, health, social welfare and security.
For example, the King himself has invested $41 million in acquisition of 76.19% shares in Cogebanque-a commercial bank that was owned by Rwandan shareholders.
He also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support several social projects worth €1 million (Rwf881million).
“This will solve problems but specifically also enable Moroccans to invest here,” Munyeshyaka told law makers.
This development has already seen Cooper Pharma, a Moroccan pharmaceutical company, announce the construction of an antibiotics plant in Rwanda with this crucial investment expectation to cut down on Rwf75 billion spent on more than 70% imports for drugs especially from Asia and Europe.
It has also inspired local companies like Apex Biotech Ltd to invest more than $18.2m for the construction of a Manufacturing plant for Malaria, TB, and HIV Drugs locally.
Members of Parliament were however interested in knowing how Rwandan investors will also benefit from the other side of the bargain in Moroccan investments.
MP Nura Nikuze said that for the morocco agreement to be mutual should be both sided.
“Since we have few Moroccans coming here and have only promised pharmaceutical plant so far, we would like to see efforts in having both sides invest on each side,” Nikuze said.
In the meantime, parliament approved a soft loan between Africa Development Bank (ADfB) and Rwanda worth $30million to be injected into innovation fund that has a total of $100 million – with the rest coming from the UK and private sector.
Dr. Claudine Uwera, the Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning said this will enhance the Kigali innovation city project which is already in plan.
She said that in the long term the deal will enable creativity and innovation which needs funding in big sums.
Also approved was the International Development Association fund $23 million to support second category of vulnerable citizens to address poverty, hunger and social welfare.
Approved was also JICA funding of Japanese Yen ¥7.670 billion meant for the construction of Ngoma Ramiro road (53kilometers).
Meanwhile, an approximate 30 Rwandans live in Djibouti, most of who work as engineers in different military bases. Three of them have lived in the country for almost 30 years where they work as teachers.