By Kelvin Jakachira

A high-level delegation from Rwanda’s business community is in Harare to attend the second leg of the Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference which kicks off on Monday.

The chairperson of Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Robert Bafakulera urged the Zimbabwean business community to take advantage of the conference to expand their businesses.

“We are interested in agriculture, agro-processing, agri-business, mining, energy and trade. I would call upon our friends here in Zimbabwe to find some time so that we sit down, we network and form some partnerships,” Bafakulera said.

The CEO of the Rwanda Finance Limited, Nick Barigye, who is also in Harare for the conference, underscored the advantages of setting up businesses in Rwanda.

“Zimbabwe has a strong financial sector, that financial sector needs to have a footprint in East Africa and the best entry point for them is in Rwanda using our finance centre called the Kigali International Finance Centre,” said Barigye.

“We are saying to investors in Zimbabwe if you want to do cross-border trading outside of Zimbabwe in other African countries…you can set up a holding structure with subsidiaries in Rwanda, Congo, Tanzania, and Kenya but for that structure to have an African footprint, you can work with the Kigali International Finance Centre. “

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa will grace the conference today [Monday]. The conference seeks to provide an interface between captains of industry and commerce, business people, those in SMEs as well as government officials from Rwanda and Zimbabwe to explore areas of mutual cooperation.

Rwanda’s delegation is led by the Minister of Trade and Industry Beatha Habyarimana.

Zimbabwe’s private sector says the engagements will open up export opportunities. Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Kurai Matsheza said: “Growth of exports within Africa is key and Rwanda is one such territory that Zimbabweans need to explore.”

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Tinanshe Manzungu said: “In Zimbabwe, we are saying we are moving from the normal mode of working and apply the digital method of working in areas that include mining, construction, and agriculture. Such technologies are coming from our friends in Rwanda so we expect to see interactions among our people and those from Rwanda.”

Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said: “It is our fervent hope that there is going to be a lot of lessons to be learned by either side given the trajectory that is being taken by the country where there has been reindustrialization.”

In September last year more than 100 business people and government officials from Zimbabwe attended the inaugural Rwanda Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference which was held in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital.

The conference was organized by AB Communications in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board and Zimtrade. Rwanda President Paul Kagame was the guest of honour at the Kigali conference.

Zimtrade Chief Executive Officer, Allan Majuru, said the conference is part of the country’s re-engagement and engagement thrust meant to integrate the economy to the rest of the globe.

“We are very excited about the Zim-Rwanda investment conference, considering the economic benefits we are set to reap from the engagement as already the country has inked about US$2 million from last year’s conference,” Majuru said.

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