Rwanda’s Infrastructure Minister James Musoni highlights the country’s prime areas for investment in infrastructure and across the board, as well as how the government is creating a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive and some of the country’s US-based partners already tapping into its potential for power production.
What is the importance of regional integration and what are the tangible efforts that have been made so far?
Rwanda belongs to a number of regional bodies such as the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which is a bigger market by itself, and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL). All these bodies have presented opportunities for member countries to enhance their social, economic and political relations to attain economic growth.
To date, member countries have responded instinctively to the regional initiatives by allowing free movement of labor, goods, services and capital. It has further created ease of access to market through the creation of customs union to promote production and consumption of locally manufactured products.
In addition, road infrastructure has been developed to facilitate transport from Mombasa and Dar es Salaam to Kigali and transit path to the neighboring countries of Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Central Corridor member states have established Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTTFA) to expedite the implementation of Standard Gauge Railway Project. With the northern corridor, preliminary market studies were conducted and construction started in Kenya. It’s expected that the completion of these project will significantly reduce cost of transport for both exports and imports to facilitate regional and international trade.
Regional member states are currently constructing substations and transmission lines that will facilitate power trade.
In a bid to promote air transport, member states have set up an airspace management framework that will allow flight safety and airline free movement within the region.
How smooth is the dialogue between the government and the private sector with regard to these projects?
The government’s role is to provide a conducive working environment for the private sector to thrive. This is done through the platform of the Public Private Dialogue (PPD). In that spirit, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was established to serve as a one-stop center for investors to address issues that impede business.
With a potential energy production of 700MW in Lake Kivu, Rwanda’s KivuWatt plant perfectly embodies Rwanda’s futuristic vision. How are you working to harvest the full potential of Lake Kivu?
Lake Kivu is a resource shared equally with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Its estimated methane gas production capacity is 700MW, of which each country has 350MW. However, the two countries have recently agreed to join efforts to effectively exploit Lake Kivu’s resources to their full potential.
With the government policy of promoting private sector investment as the engine of growth and development, the Government of Rwanda signed a 100MW methane gas to power concession agreement with KivuWatt, a subsidiary company of US-based Contour Global, whose extraction technology has proven successful as it currently injects 26MW to the national grid as the first phase.
A similar agreement of 55MW methane gas to power was signed with Symbion Power, a US-based company.
Under the Lake Kivu Monitoring Program, there is a team that does regular technical inspections to monitor the behavior of the lake and ensure that extraction does not affect its stability and the ecosystem.
Renewable energy and diversification of power production are key targets to achieve Rwanda’s Vision 2020 objectives. How do you engage private sector institutions to invest in such sectors?
The government has put in place a private sector friendly environment that encourages private investment, with the whole process being spearheaded by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). In the energy sector for example, we have the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Law that makes it easy for investors to negotiate and conclude power purchase and concession agreements with the government prior to the start of the project. All these initiatives have transformed Rwanda’s energy sector into giant opportunity for investment.
Minister Kanimba and Minister Mukeshimana both told the Worldfolio that the PPP model is an attractive initiative that will pave the way to achieve Rwanda’s 2020 Vision. What has your Ministry to highlight with regards to the PPP solution?
The PPP model provides business incentive and financial protection to investors, hence raising investors’ confidence. It ensures high quality and timely execution of projects.
Rwanda has recently engaged in infrastructure projects aimed not only at upgrading Kigali’s International Airport, but also at constructing a new international airport in Bugesera. How would you assess Rwanda’s position to become the aviation hub of the region?
Rwanda is a landlocked country but not an “air-locked” nation. To transform Rwanda into an aviation hub, we must first develop strong and sustainable aviation infrastructure. The first step is to create a state-of-the-art airport. The second is to develop a strong national carrier in order to facilitate air transport.
RwandAir’s fleet is growing with four new aircraft expected before the end of this fiscal year. This growth will continue up to 2020 with the addition of more planes. This will allow us to serve the entire region and to connect Rwanda to the rest of the world. Construction of a new airport will commence in the next few months and will have other auxiliary services to make it an airport city.
As you stated recently that the leadership of the country encourages looking for homegrown solutions. How do you assess the work undergone by the private sector to develop the “Made in Rwanda” brand?
Rwanda has a lot of potential in the manufacturing sector. We currently import certain products that can be locally produced and have excess for export, for example in the textile industry, ICT development, construction, and agro-processing.
Though we have registered some good progress, a lot of potential still exists and therefore we are calling for more private investment.
What other investment opportunities would you highlight to our international readership?
We have numerous investment opportunities across all sectors of the economy for both local and foreign investors. Some of the key infrastructure opportunities include: construction of a new international airport in Bugesera; Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali and Dar Es Salaam-Isaka-Kigali/Keza-Musongati standard-gauge railway lines; development of a centralized sewerage system; construction of affordable houses for low and middle-income earners; high-end housing development; entertainment centers, such as sports and recreational centers; and energy.
Experts are unanimous in saying that one of the first things investors ask about when penetrating an African market is infrastructure. What message of confidence would you like to convey to investors coming in to Rwanda?
Rwanda is a country that is developing at a steady pace. We have made some good achievements in infrastructure development. However, the government is making more efforts in constructing and completing projects in the pipeline and improving the existing ones to reach the desired levels. For example, efforts are being made to ensure universal access to electricity and 100% water distribution coverage, among others, by the year 2020.
As Africa is undergoing a major transformation and luring investments, what do you think is attracting all this attention to the African continent nowadays?
The African continent has all the required resources to attract investors. It is endowed with abundant natural resources, arable land for agricultural production, sizeable market, security, and good governance in most of the African countries.