By Friday Nwosu
Rwanda is set to hold the 26th World Economic Forum for Africa, to further integrate the African continent through digital integration.
The forum which is expected to hold from the 11th-13 May 2016, with the theme: “Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation”, will bring together regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society in Africa and around the world, to discuss digital economy catalysts that can drive radical structural transformation, strengthen public-private collaboration on key global and regional challenges, and agree on strategic actions that can deliver shared prosperity across the continent.
Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, has dramatically transformed since the 1994 genocide. The country is emerging as a regional high-tech hub and boasts one of sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest GDP growth rates. It is one of the continent’s most competitive economies and a top reformer in improving the business environment.
This remarkable progress showcases the country’s rapid evolution as a knowledge economy, powered by smart policies and investments. Nonetheless, further reforms and alliances are called for to accelerate development by leveraging digital transformation to expand socio-economic opportunities.
Rwanda has become an incredible place to do business and its government has been doing all the right things to make sure that the world recognizes this: It’s good to do business in Rwanda.
The efforts by the Rwandan government have not gone unnoticed with the outstanding performance in the different annual World Bank Doing Business reports.
The 2015 World Bank Doing Business Report has ranked Rwanda 55th out of 189 countries worldwide!
This is all the more incredible when you stop to consider that Rwanda was 150th in the 2008 report, just a few years ago! It has also been rated the 3rd easiest place to do business in all of Sub Saharan Africa.
Like all of its initiatives Rwanda has taken a practical approach to creating the environment for which it has received so many accolades. First it has made it easy to do business within Rwanda.
The country made enforcing contracts easier by implementing an electronic filing system for initial complaints to greatly speed up the process. It has put the policies in place so that company registration takes only two procedures and the whole process of incorporation is concluded in just less than 5 hours.
Electricity is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to doing business in Africa, Rwanda has also eased getting electricity by reducing the cost of obtaining a new connection by 30%.
Rwanda has reformed 26 business laws and brought them to international standards. But the quality of any law is determined by the speed at which it can be ruled upon and enforced, in that vein Rwanda introduced an e-filing system for cases in the judicial system especially in commercial courts which has made it faster to resolve commercial disputes making Rwanda the 39th fastest in the world!
Having solidified its standing and reputation as a safe, secure place to do business, the Rwandan government realises that its needs to be guarantee that those seeking to business or visit Rwanda can do it so conveniently.
Leaving nothing to chance it has taken its destiny into its own hands with the remarkable story that is RwandAir, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world! RwandAir has undergone a major transformation since 2011 as it has renewed its entire fleet and built up Kigali into an emerging hub for sub-Sahara Africa.
Passenger traffic has grown by over 50% to about 600,000, driven by new fifth and sixth freedom opportunities and surging local demand, which has also attracted an influx of foreign carriers to Kigali.
RwandAir’s home: Kigali International Airport (KIA) is not being left behind, as its completing the finishing touches on a renovation that will see it match the status of the airline that calls it home: Upon the KIA’s renovation completion the upgraded airport will be able to accommodate 1.5 million passengers annually, three times its previous capacity of 500,000.
Should any of the millions of visitor like that they see and decide to return or venture out of KIA, getting visa echoes the spirit of pragmatism the Rwanda government now legendary for: Rwanda has made it possible for all Passport-holding Africans to receive visas on arrival in Kigali while others can apply for an entry permit online which they can receive within three days or even better yet, receive and pay for a visa upon arrival.
Like its economic reforms, the improvements to Rwanda as a business destination have not gone unnoticed either. It has hosted number of high-level conferences in recent years. Transform Africa summit in October 2013, which accommodated 2,000 delegates, African Development Bank general assembly in May 2014, which accommodated 2,500.
There have also been numerous other events on a slightly smaller scale, such as the Africa Insurance summit (800 delegates) in June 2014 and ITC’s World Export Development Forum (800 delegates) in September.
As these level of events are only the beginning, Rwanda is ramping up capacity to be able to host these events. Rwanda’s capital city is currently preparing to unveil the new $300 million Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) that is due to open in mid-2016.
The convention centre will host the African Union Summit of 2016 as its maiden major event, and is poised to be a First Class hub of service in the East African Community.
There will be no issues hosting any number of guests as a number of international four- and five-star hotels are currently under development in Rwanda, including Radisson Blu, Marriott, Park Inn, Sheraton, Kempinski, Protea and Golden Tulip.
This series of projects will result in more than 1,000 high-end hotel rooms becoming available to travelers in the foreseeable future.
By any measure, there is little doubt that the WEF 2016 is not the conclusion of Rwanda’s story’s an economic and industrial hub, its merely the beginning! The WEF 2016 is Rwanda’s proclamation to the world: It’s good to do business in Rwanda!