When you think of Rwanda, if you think of genocide, you should think again. Not that we should forget the horrors of 1994, but Rwanda is moving on — and it wants your investment and tourism, not your sympathy.
Though it is difficult to rebrand the country (especially after movies like Hotel Rwanda), the government is certainly working hard to do so, and investors are listening. One way Rwanda has made business easier for investors is by creating the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). This is a new institution, essentially combining 8 previously independently existing organisations: the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA); the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN); the Privatization Secretariat; the Rwanda Commercial Registration Services Agency; the Rwanda Information and Technology Authority (RITA); the Center for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises (CAPMER); the Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA); and the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA).
While in Rwanda, I spoke to Clare Akamanzi, the Deputy CEO in charge of Business Operations and Services at RDB, as well as their new CEO, Joe Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie is the co-chairman (with President Kagame) of the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC), which hosts quite an impressive team of advisers, from Michael Porter to Rick Warren to John Rucyahana to Donald Kaberuka.
Through enhanced coordination at RDB one can now register a business in Rwanda in a record 2 days!
I will be posting the interviews with Joe and Clare after they have been published in the Independent.