The process to have potential investors to take up the land given to Rwanda by the government of Djibouti is at the horizon, but Rwandans are yet to know who is eligible enough to take Rwanda’s investment radar to the seashore.
For nearly seven years now, Rwanda’s 60 hectares of land in Djibouti remain unutilized, while the country’s Private Sector insists on being ready to provide potential investors to utilize it.
Initially, Rwanda acquired 20ha of land at the port of Djibouti in 2013, which would later be extended to 60ha piece of land near the Autonomous Port of Djibouti and the Dubai World International Port.
The land, if fully utilized, could partly move Rwanda from the list of 16 landlocked countries in Africa to one of the immediate beneficiaries of the sea.
At least 80% of Rwanda’s external trade go through central corridor anchored by the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, which is 8 days of dwell time. The other route is through the port of Mombasa in Kenya.
In March last year, Tanzania Ports Authority opened its subsidiary in Rwanda’s capital Kigali in a bid to help reduce the dwell time by 50% and the overall travel time and cost of cargo.
But once invested in, Djibouti’s land could even play a more game changer role.
Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), says its members are eligible enough and ready to invest, but negotiations are ongoing with the government to come up with the final conclusion on who should be key investors of the land.
In an interview with KT Press, Private Sector Federation Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Ruzibiza confirmed that consultations with government are in the final stages and investment could kick start before end of this year.
“Yes, the government approached us through Ministry of Trade and Ministry of Foreign Affairs giving us that current opportunity that is there,” Ruzibiza said.
Part of discussions, he added, was to get specifications of the land, how suitable it is for investment as well documents to support PSF to mobilise its members to invest.
“We also asked what business the government want, is it a specific business or it is an open business? So we are still discussing with the Ministries concerned who will let us have all those details.”
Rwanda’s land in Djibouti is located in the free trade zone along the port of Djibouti – making it considered for investments in sectors such as logistics and manufacturing.
Asked if PSF has members eligible to invest in the sector, Ruzibiza confirmed availability.
“We have business people especially those in logistics that we think we can inform our members they see the opportunity there. It is an ongoing process and it is not yet closed.”
According to Ruzibiza, negotiations with the government could be finalized soon, followed by investments which he said, could start before end of this year.
“It can be done even before end of the year. Anything can happen once the members appreciate the opportunity then they can invest because we are pinching,” he said.
Not for only Rwandans
According to Ruzibiza, Rwanda is looking for eligible investors beyond local citizens.
“It is not necessarily that it has to be Rwandans. It can even be partnership such as Rwandans, Djiboutian or even Diaspora,” Ruzibiza told KT Press.
He also noted that government has briefed members of the Private Sector of several about other plots acquired in different countries that will attract investments in the near future.
Reciprocally, Rwanda also gave Djibouti a 10-hectare piece of land in the Kigali Special Economic Zone.
Djibouti has the largest industrial park in Africa – the Djibouti International Free Trade Zone which sits on 48.2 square kilometres of land along the coastline.