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Rwanda Aspires To Become A Business And Innovation Hub In The Next Decade



CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi

Advertorial by Rwanda Development Board

1. Looking at RDB’s ten-year journey, what did it take to get it here?

It took a bold vision by H.E. Pres Paul Kagame, and the entire Government, to prioritize private sector development, as the driver of Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation.  This formed the basis for the creation of the Rwanda Development Board, as a one stop institution to provide key services, and expedite decisions affecting investors as well as reforms for a very conducive business environment.

We wanted to bring all the agencies responsible for business registration, investment/export promotion, privatization and specialist agencies which support the priority sectors of ICT and tourism as well as SMEs and human capacity development in the private sector all under one roof. This meant less legwork for investors as they had one major institution to work with, as well as time and financial savings for Government.

This vision has paid off. Today, Rwanda, at 38th rank, is the only Low-Income Country in the top 50 of the 2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report and is the 2nd easiest place to do business in Africa after Mauritius. Consequently, Rwanda has been recognized as the top global reformer by the World Bank with the highest number of implemented reforms over the last ten years.

Similarly, in terms of investments into Rwanda, last year we surpassed the US$ 2 billion target for the first time in the country’s history, with investments registered over US$ 2.006 billion in 2018 up from about US$ 400 million registered in 2010. This is a sign of the continuous investor confidence in Rwanda by both local and foreign investors. Tourism has also doubled within the same period reaching over $400m today, while exports of our key products in agriculture, minerals and manufactured products quadrupled over the last decade.

As an institution, I am also proud to say that we are a competitive employer, with many talented Rwandans are aspiring to join our workforce, and be part of a unique opportunity to contribute to Rwanda’s transformation.

2. Rwanda’s seems to have claimed her place in the world, what did it take to achieve that?

Apart from the ambitious reforms that we have put in place over the last decade, we have done our best to showcase Rwanda to the world as the best place to invest and do business, the best place to set up a factory and sell Made in Rwanda products as well as the best place to enjoy exciting tourism offerings.

Last year, we signed a strategic partnership with two major global players, Arsenal Football Club in London and Alibaba from China.

The deal with Arsenal aims to market the country under the ‘Visit Rwanda’ brand. Through the partnership, we have been able to increase people’s knowledge and interest in Rwanda.

Let me illustrate. Since the announcement of the partnership in May last year, we have seen a lot of interest especially through our online presence:

• Within two weeks of the launch, 58 news stories reached a global audience of 1.2 billion people;

• Google searches of Rwanda in the US increased by over 1000% for keywords like: ‘Visit Rwanda, Rwanda travel, Rwanda tourism, and Kigali Rwanda hotels’.

• Visit Rwanda is now seen 35 million times each time Arsenal plays.

• Visit Rwanda social media posts by Arsenal reach a direct global audience of over 15 million people.

In the same way, Rwanda partnered with Alibaba Group in October 2018 to bring Rwanda tourism packages closer to the Asian market through Alibaba’s online travel platform, Fliggy, as well as Rwandan products through Tmall. We are selling coffee and tourism on these platforms and will soon add chillis.

We also participate in global platforms such as the World Economic Forum, trade fairs, and investments forums to Showcase Rwanda to the World.

3. The country is still struggling to curb the balance of trade deficit, now what is being done deliberately to improve this position?

We are exploring different ways of solving the country’s trade deficit by looking at ways to benefit from Rwanda’s strategic regional positioning in order to increase exports as well as domestic manufacturing.

Rwanda has strategic access to four countries and a catchment area of a consumer market of nearly 60 million people reachable by road, barely four hours away from Kigali in all directions. This market has a purchasing power of US$1-2 billion in basic fast-moving consumer goods and another US$1.5 billion in consumer durables. To maximize the benefits from this market, the Rwandan Government established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to enhance the country’s competitiveness as a commercial/logistics hub, taking advantage of her natural strategic location through the promotion of export oriented industrial activities as well as re-exports, manufacturing and services.

Today, over 29 companies are already set up in the Kigali SEZ and others have set up in the other SEZs located country-wide, manufacturing made in Rwanda products using raw materials sourced from Rwanda, most of which is exported after.

If you look at Rwanda’s 2018 exports, a big part of that were processed products made by companies in the SEZs. For example, we have Africa Improved Foods who make nutritious foods using soya, milk, maize among other products. They buy from farmers, process then export it. Last year, they exported goods worth almost US$ 30 million.

Soon we hope Rwandan companies will also start exporting cars assembled by VW, phones made by Maraphones, pharmaceutical products made by Cooperpharma.

Lastly, we are also growing exports in Services, particularly tourism, innovation through our innovation ecosystem among others.

 4.  70% of working population in agriculture with the coming of the fourth industrial revolution and a focus on manufacturing, is there a plan to reskill this population?

In terms of creating jobs, Rwanda has been creating new jobs every year and targets to create over 1.5 million jobs over the next seven years. To achieve this, industrialization is key to absorb our youth who can move from agriculture to basic manufacturing. A very good example is in garment-making. Pink Mango located in the Kigali SEZ will employ over 1,500 people. If we have 100 more businesses like Pink Mango in the SEZs, it would have industrial parks as the primary source of jobs in Rwanda. We are also preparing to move further in the industrial chain in order to take advantage of the industrial revolution.  This is through investing in vocational training as well as world-class STEM education. Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, for example has produced over 100 graduates over the last 10 years. Others training in STEM are Africa Leadership University, African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), as well as the University of Global Health University, in public health.

5. What are the aims/goals for the next 10 years?

RDB’s vision is to work with our partners to transform Rwanda into a dynamic global hub for business, investment, and innovation.  The next 10 years will deepen this goal. We will continue to foster and fast track private sector led economic growth across all sectors, and make Rwanda every investor’s first choice. Our best years are yet to come.

Brand Voice

How Inverroche Is Pioneering South Africa’s Craft Gin




Inverroche is a progressive craft distillery that pioneered craft gin in South Africa, creating uniquely South African spirits using rare hand-harvested wild African Fynbos botanicals. A true proudly South African product, Inverroche is built on family and prides itself in creating a niche product which looks as good as it tastes.

Lorna Scott

Founded by Lorna Scott and her family in Still Bay, this petite distillery has grown from a small home industry to a pioneering craft distillery and leader in the world of craft Gins. Inverroche is located in Still Bay in the Cape Floristic region which hosts one of the highest known concentration of plant species known as Fynbos. Famous for its large and diverse variety of botanical species – the South African heritage is intertwined beautifully into the Inverroche brand.

Fynbos has long been used by indigenous people for medicinal and culinary purposes but is now under threat due to agricultural development and invasive alien plants. Lorna felt that one way of preserving fynbos would be to find a commercial use for it and to create a global brand telling the story of these historically significant plants which contributed to the emergence and survival of modern humans. BY doing this she created an abundance of jobs for the local community and this is portrayed by the in excess of 70% local female workforce employed by the distillery.

The Inverroche distillery lies at the confluence of the Goukou River and the Indian Ocean near the coastal resort of Still bay in the Western Cape. Vineyards, olive groves and Fynbos surround the distillery itself, with ancient Milkwood trees marking the boundaries of the estate. The name Inverroche was an amalgamation of French and Celtic words, combined to celebrate the unique geography surrounding the distillery (‘Inver’ refers to the confluence of waters, ‘Roche’ is the French translation of the word rock).

The distillery’s three gins were launched on 16th December 2011, which incidentally, is also the first time that they opened their doors to the public. From selling a few bottles on that first day to now being the leading South African Luxury Gin in both South Africa and abroad.

Each variant of Inverroche (Classic / Verdant & Amber) is carefully created with fynbos from the various areas (Limestone rich lowlands / mountainous terrain / coastal region ) which make them truly unique spirits.

Try the below Gin & Tonic serve with the Inverroche Amber Recipe

Drink Serve Recipe






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Brand Voice

Charmaine Mabuza Honoured With FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Social Impact Award




Brand Voice by Zamani Holdings and ITHUBA

Group CEO of Zamani Holdings, Charmaine Mabuza was honoured with the Social Impact Award at the 2020 FORBES WOMAN AFRICA Leading Women Summit held in Durban ICC recently.

This award recognizes Mabuza for her measurable philanthropy that has positively impacted the lives of many South Africans for the past 21 years. 

At the top of her philanthropical projects is the Eric and Charmaine Mabuza Scholarship Foundation which she founded with her husband, Advocate Eric Mabuza in 1999. The Scholarship Foundation started in Mpumalanga, where the Mabuza’s business hub is centered. Speaking to Ukhozi FM in an interview, Charmaine Mabuza said that together with her husband, they funded this foundation straight from their pockets. “Both my husband and I come from humble beginnings and we know what it’s like to not have means to study further, especially when you believe that education is your way out of poverty. So when we started making good profits from our small businesses at the time, we decided to dedicate a portion of our personal income to funding tertiary education fees of previously disadvantaged children”, said Mabuza.

Powered by Zamani Holdings, the Scholarship Foundation later expanded its reach to the rest of South Africa, supporting over 160 students countrywide, many of which have qualified as Doctors, Chartered Accountants, Engineers, Quantity Surveyors and many more. The 2020 Scholarship Foundation programme launched on 13 January, with an intake of 21 students.

Zamani holdings has empowered the rest its group of companies to roll out CSI initiatives that truly transform the lives of ordinary South Africans. At the forefront of these initiatives is ITHUBA, the South African National Lottery Operator and Zamani’s flagship company.

In July 2017, ITHUBA launched the ITHUBA Female Retailer Development programme, specially designed to empower women who own spaza shops and informal supermarkets, who currently sell National Lottery products, from all around the country. This included women from previously marginalized communities in the rural outskirts.

In collaboration with reputable institutions such as Regenesys and the University of Johannesburg, this programme has upskilled over 100 women in retail business. The latest group of 14 women graduated in October 2019 at the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway campus, each being awarded a qualification in Advanced Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation.

Zamani’s Social Responsibility initiatives include:

  • ITHUBA Graduate Programme: An annual skills development programme for graduates within the Marketing, Finance, IT, PR, HR and Logistics fields, with intake of 13 students in 2020.
  • Youth Enterprise Development:  Eradicating youth unemployment through developing upcoming entrepreneurs and helping them build sustainable, profit making business. 
  • Housing project: A project that builds houses for employees in the lower income brackets, who have been in the employment of the company for 10 years and more.
  • A media campaign to condemn femicide and violence against women.

“I firmly believe that education is key to eradicating poverty and injustice. This is why all of our initiatives are based on imparting knowledge and skills. Through education we empower, through education we liberate” said Mabuza.

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Brand Voice

FOCUS ON NIGERIA: The Next Level For Africa



“Foreign companies, especially oil prospects and development companies, have been in Nigeria for about two generations – 40 years and above and so on. So, they know the environment. They stayed that long. They continue to invest because they know the potential Nigeria has in oil and gas and the capacity of the people to learn and work hard.” H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria

With the recent re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has secured an additional four years with an administration that is dedicated to the nation in its efforts to continue its path toward bringing Africa to the next level. With the largest population on the continent, domestic demand in Nigeria continues to rise while resources and favourable demographics are attracting the strong flow of FDI. As one of the leading markets in the continent, investment possibilities in the country cannot be overlooked. Improved macroeconomics, which are supported by recovering oil prices and production, has ensured that Nigeria maintains the title of the largest economy in Africa. This title is largely aided by Nigeria’s powerhouse of GDP generation: oil and gas.

Nigeria has seen strong and steady growth in the oil and gas sector over the past sixty years when petroleum was officially discovered. To bring the reality of the oil and gas industry into perspective, the first quarter of 2018 reported that sales of crude oil made up 76.3% of Nigeria’s export earnings, bringing in about US$11.7 billion. In the same time span, processed oil products (e.g. condensates and lubricants) earned an additional US$1.75 billion, which accounted for an additional 11.4% of the total export earnings. In regard to contributing to the immense success of the industry, Segun Adebutu, CEO of Petrolex says, “As integrated energy conglomerate with strategic investments across the energy value chain, we are committed to building communities, transforming lives and driving economic growth and development in Nigeria.”

Driving economic growth and development is ultimately the central goal of His Excellency President Buhari’s administration. H.E. President Buhari says, “The administration is committed to responsibly managing our oil wealth endowments.” The administration’s commitment is further brought to life through a focus on infrastructure development. Nigeria currently has several on-going and upcoming gas projects in the works for the rapid development of the country’s energy sector. One such project is the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline. The AKK pipeline is a continuation of infrastructure built for the domestic gas market. “The AKK pipeline is part of the Gas Master Plan,” says Emeka Okwuosa, CEO of Oilserv. “It is going to move 1.5 billion scf of gas a day and provide resources for power generation and other energy requirements. It is not only a development of the north; it is such for the entire country. So, this single project can transform the whole of Nigeria in terms of industrial capacity.”

The implementation of the AKK pipeline will only further Nigeria’s potential in the industry, specifically by monetising the incredible opportunity in the gas market. Focus on this type of infrastructure is testament to how the current administration is embracing the Gas Master Plan, which is poised to help Nigeria become the gas hub of West Africa while improving the socio-economic development of the nation. Recently, State Minister of Petroleum Resources, Hon. Chief Timipre Marlin Sylva has declared 2020 as “the Year of Gas”, and this proves to be true as the country makes moves to capitalise on gas and improve its local energy distribution. With an extensive roadmap in place, the gas revolution is on the right track to usher in Buhari’s vision for a next-level Nigeria.

Reflecting this dedication to the next level of the sector, Chief Tunde J. Afolabi, Chairman & CEO of Amni, speaks of the potential of gas in the country: “Given that Nigeria has three to four times more gas than oil, companies such as ours should focus more on gas; in our discovery of gas reserves we should look to harness and monetise the gas as we go along. The government is making a requirement that when looking for oil, companies must find a solution for the gas before they are allowed to produce oil.” This mentality will inevitably evolve the prosperous sector toward new avenues and make even greater use of the natural resource. 

While the oil and gas industry continues to sustain further growth in forthcoming years, FDI remains crucial for the sector and new investments keep being launched to make sure it continues sustained growth and development. Tein T.S. Jack-Rich, Founder and President of Belemaoil, says “Nigeria has been pretty predominant in the oil business. Nigeria has great potential. We have the demographics to decide the right economic framework.”  Investment opportunities range from upstream oil and gas production, such as deposits or drill wells, or in downstream production that focuses on the post-production of crude oil and natural gas activities, such as seen in refineries plant production, or sales. Within any level of exploration, extraction or production, the partnering opportunities are immense.

Under the guidance of H.E. President Buhari’s administration and the Gas Master Plan, the oil and gas sector is destined to spur economic growth and drive industrialisation with linkages to other key sectors such as construction, ICT, power, railways and agriculture. H.E. President Buhari is confident in the future of Nigeria, saying, “We have laid the foundations for a strong, stable and prosperous country for the majority of our people.” As such, the upcoming years are sure to prove that the “Year of Gas” is, in reality, a new era for the industry, which will further signal a new age for Nigerians by creating jobs, facilitating investment, and offering greater access to electricity. While it is known that oil is a constant, Nigeria is showing that gas will continue to play an increasingly important role to ensure that the nation progresses forward towards the next level.

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