The Rwandan and Mauritius business communities are set to promote trade and investment ties as Mauritians eye the continental market.
“We decided to come to Kigali to strengthen trade and relationships between the two countries and economic relations between the business communities,” pointed out Chamroo Dev, the CEO of Enterprise Mauritius, a public company that aims to promote export.
The chairman expressed the will to explore the Rwandan market on Thursday at the opening of the first Rwanda-Mauritius Buyers-Sellers meeting and exhibition which will run until Friday in Kigali Serena Hotel.
The event, organized by Enterprise Mauritius in collaboration with Private Sector Federation in order to showcase a wide range of ‘made in Mauritius’ products. 22 Mauritian companies are present. The products and services include textile, plastics, detergents, cosmetics, chemicals, fertilizers, pipes and fittings, furniture, footwear, books, printing services as well as a services such as ICT, education and training services.
According to entrepreneurs from both sides, the Buyers-Sellers meeting will be an ideal platform to establish fruitful contacts between Rwandans and Mauritian businesses. Both countries are members of the Common Market for Eastern Africa (COMESA), which promotes intra-regional trade with goods exempted from customs duty.
The Mauritian business people came to Rwanda from Uganda, and according to them, it’s in line with their commitment to explore the African market in addition to European, their traditional export destination. The country has exports in excess of USD 3 billion, and Africa accounts for 18% of it.
In addition, Rwanda can borrow a leaf from Mauritius. The south-east African country, located in the Indian sea, counts for instance 90,000 SMEs, of which 15,000 are in industrial sector. They define a small enterprise as a company that has an annual turnover of USD 1.5 million, while a medium one is supposed to have an annual turnover of between USD 1.5 and 5 million.
“If you look at around the world, there are best practices to borrow in doing business, and Mauritius comes number one,” noted Mannington Namara, the CEO of PSF.
The World Bank recently named Mauritius in the best African country to do business in, before South Africa and Rwanda. “Who else could you copy if you can copy the number one?” Namara pointed out. “If we had 15,000 SMEs in manufacturing whether for the domestic market or export, we could do without imports from China and elsewhere. These are the best practices that we should emulate.”
On the other side, Mauritian delegates do not only wish to explore the Rwandan market for their exports, but also for broader economic relations. Dev said they decided to do so after conducting market research to identify business opportunities in the country.
“We are here at the beginning of the journey. That journey starts by investing. It’s a key signal that Mauritius wants to do business and have a closer collaboration with Rwanda,” noted Dev.
For that to happen, according to the chairman of Enterprise Mauritius, there is a need to engage different actors at different levels. It’s in this respect that MoUs at three levels were signed on Thursday evening: between the private sectors from both countries; between Enterprise Mauritius and the Rwanda Development Board; and between both governments and related institutions. The MoUs are about trade partnership and linkages.
According to the officials, the targeted sectors include agro-industry, chemical industry and energy. Mauritian investors have already started to invest in Rwanda in sectors such as energy and sugar production. They already have investment success stories in Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya where they mainly produce sugar.
For Clare Akamanzi, the acting CEO of RDB, what is very important is that they have started a very strong relationship with not only Mauritius, but also its businesspeople. “If Mauritius is number one, there is something that we can learn from them,” she said.