First UK-Rwanda Business Forum Lays Emphasis on Sustainable Growth

From 29 to 31 January, the UK-Rwanda Business Forum (#URBF2024) took place in Kigali International Convention Centre. It was the first ever of such bilateral business forum and the theme of this first edition was “Succeeding in Rwanda: Unlocking Growth & Opportunities.”

1st UK-Rwanda Business at Kigali Convention Center
1st UK-Rwanda Business at Kigali Convention Center

The topics and sectors discussed include:

  • Agriculture and Horticulture
  • Critical Minerals
  • Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
  • Green Economy
  • Financial and Professional Services

In her keynote address, Rwandan Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana outlined the Vision 2050 National Development Plan (#NDP) for Rwanda. The Vision 2050 is an extension of the previous Vision 2020 plan which just ended.

He noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade volume has doubled over the past five years. During Fiscal Year 2022-2023 ending in June 2023, the bilateral trade volume reached GBP 35 billion, representing a 9.4% increase year-on-year. Rwanda exports mainly agricultural produce such as tea and coffee while UK exports mostly machinery and pharmaceuticals.

Breakout Session on Critical Minerals at URBF2024
Breakout Session on Critical Minerals at URBF2024

Over the past decade spanning 2013-2023, the amount of UK Overseas Direct Investment (#ODI) into Rwanda has exceeded to GBP 600. Minister Ndagijimana did not fail to highlight that thanks to #GoodGovernance and reforms, Rwanda currently boasts one of the best macroeconomic environment and #BusinessClimate in Africa.

On his part, the UK Trade Envoy Dolar Popat expressed the wish to see more trade and investment between the two countries. He underscored those sectors such as horticulture, infrastructure & logistics, manufacturing #CriticalMinerals and #GreenEconomy which appear to hold great potential for fruitful partnerships.

As part of the success stories on showcase, it is worth mentioning the Bboxx case. The company operates in the #RenewableEnergy sector while applying the latest technology to make a difference.

“What makes me excited about Rwanda is the sense of progress..Rwanda is now becoming a place where the connectivity, infrastructure and skills exist and we see ourselves having our operational headquarters here to be able to accelerate our vision for wider Africa.”

Bboxx CEO Mansoor Hamayun
Breakout Session on Green Economy at URBF2024
Breakout Session on Green Economy at URBF2024

Bboxx has decided to move its Headquarters from London to Kigali in order to be closer to its largest and most important market. In partnership with EnerTech, it plans to invest nearly USD 100 million in green energy projects over the next few years.

So far, Bboxx is presents in 11 Africa countries and provides green electricity to 10% of households in Rwanda. By 2028, Bboxx targets to connect and power up nearly 36 million people across Africa.

It is worth perhaps worth recalling that Rwanda lit up on the global radar when London proposed to send asylum seekers to Kigali as part of what is commonly referred to as the Rwanda Asylum Plan. As the plan drew criticisms, it is officially referred to as the UK and Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership and was first put forward by the UK government in April 2022. The plan appears to lay emphasis on promoting sustainable development in order for Africans to want to stay in Africa.

Rwanda nationally determined contributions takes the country firmly on the path to #NetZero. By 20230, Rwanda plans to reduce carbon emissions by at least 38%. By promoting the local value addition (#LVA) of #CriticalMinerals and green manufacturing, Rwanda hopes to boost its economy while contributing to the fight against #ClimateChange.