The USA has announced a special arrangement through which Rwanda will become a strategic ally in the quest to reinforce trade partnership with Africa.
US President’s Council on doing business in Africa, currently in Rwanda, delivered the message to President Paul Kagame.
Executives of the Council and representatives of American business community said Rwanda will be a point of reference for US trade policy with Africa.
The understanding comes after thorough study of the trade with Africa, which helped them develop a clear vision of partnership with the continent.
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, who is leading the delegation in Kigali, said after meeting Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, she said the U.S chose Rwanda as one of two destinations because over the past 20 years, the country has been a remarkable success story.
“Much of this positive progress is the result of a concerted and focused approach to economic and commercial policymaking,” she said.
The 2015 Doing Business report, a global ranking of World Bank ranked Rwanda top 3 easiest places to do business in Africa, and 46th globally.
Rwanda has reduced its corporate income taxes from 30% to 15%, for priority sectors, including energy, financial services, transport, affordable housing and logistics in an investment code that was published in May 2015, replacing a code of 2005.
The country is giving up to 7 years of tax holidays to projects investing $50 million in energy, of which Americans are already benefiting and manufacturing, health and ICT, key sectors in country’s economy.
Pritzker said, Rwanda, like the East African Community, has a lot to offer to the US, thanks to a successful regional integration.
Rwanda and the region will also benefit from American’s partnership especially in the energy sector.
The visit provided the council an opportunity to share their perspective on what the governments of the region, in partnership with the U.S, can do to foster deeper regional economic and trade ties to overcome challenges related to power, access to capital, and infrastructure, among others.
Energy is still a challenge for Africa’s development. In the Rwandan context, the country has concluded several deals to import over 400 Megawatts from Ethiopia and Kenya, but needs more. More than $500million has been invested by American energy firms.
Meanwhile, the visiting business community also held discussion with President Kagame on some political affairs, including his decision to run for a third term in 2017. He evoked the disappointment that was expressed by US President Barack Obama’s administration.
However, the relationship between the U.S and Rwanda is ‘deep and mature’, Pritzker said. “We have seen Rwanda make progress on economic growth, reducing poverty, promoting education and improving public health.”
She also mentioned that the U.S recognises Rwanda’s contributions to peacekeeping.