‘Rwanda wooing investors with Special Economic Zones,’ – Grow Africa report

Rwanda offers a highly conducive business environment and stable macro-economic framework for investment in agriculture; it has been captured in the Grow Africa Annual report released last Friday.

Kigali Special Economic Zone (Photo: Grow Africa 2014 annual report)

Kigali Special Economic Zone (Photo: Grow Africa 2014 annual report)

The report noted that Rwanda’s positive legal environment is further bolstered by strong governance structures, which have seen Rwanda rated as the least corrupt nation in sub-Saharan Africa, and Kigali as the safest capital in the region.

The World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2014 ranked Rwanda as the top global reformer, and 32nd for doing business globally out of 189 countries. Indeed, extensive regulatory reforms have reduced bureaucracy around business creation, access to finance, tax breaks and risk mitigation, the Grow Africa report points out.

“A new Investment Code, currently in the process of being finalized, is set to enhance the country’s enabling environment even further,” reads part of the report.

According to the Grow Africa annual report, integral to these efforts has been the creation by the Government of Rwanda of Special Economic Zones, which are aimed at promoting private investment as well as industry and export growth by offering quality infrastructure, streamlined business regulations and incentives to investors and businesses.

On the 74th page of document, it says that attracting particular interest among agricultural investors is the Kigali Special Economic Zone, which also offers both regulatory incentives and the necessary infrastructure for agro-processing, including roads, energy, water and ICT.

Between 2000 and 2013, the value of registered private investments in Rwandan agriculture totaled $512 million across 184 projects. As the top export commodities, tea and coffee have remained significant investment targets, though proportionately only accounting for 19% of overall investment, the document revealed.

The 91-page report says the industry is increasingly witnessing diversification into emerging sub-sectors with growth potential, including beverages, floriculture, fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, hides and skins, rice and grains, fish, honey and oils.

Through Grow Africa, the report says, Rwanda has identified specific investment projects to boost outputs, improve quality and drive up revenues for different commodities. These include expansion of the tea sector by increasing the growing area by a further 15,000 ha by 2017. Other processing facilities for Irish potato, cassava starch, animal feed and bio-fortified baby food are also under construction – all of which add value and facilitate domestic revenue generation, goals that will continue to represent the agricultural sector’s overarching priorities over the next five years.

While in some countries investors have found themselves dealing with multiple government agencies, and even basic requirements taking up to a year to resolve, the report says that, in contrast, Rwandan government is cited for its responsiveness and clarity.

The story was compiled from the Grow Africa annual report 2014 that can be seen here

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