13.3.2020

Interview with H.E Mohamed Achgalou: Morocco’s Economic Outlook

I would like, first, to thank the Finnish Chamber of Commerce for this initiative. I would start by some words to describe our bilateral relations. Morocco and Finland share common values of openness, freedom and democracy. Those factors have helped to develop and support the continued strengthening of friendship ties, officially declared 60 years ago. Different bilateral and multilateral agreements covering trade, tax systems, investment protection, shape the economic part of these excellent relations.

Economic outlook of Morocco today, and what are the prospects for the country?

In this context, I would state that the evocation of the Moroccan economy commonly refers to the country’s unique heritage and millennia of commercial practices and to its sustaining potential of development. The state of the Moroccan economy is to be explained with reference to its most strategical known location at the crossroads of Continents, with main trade routes in Africa and just 14 km from Europe. The same goes for its historical roots and vast territory, covering 710,850 sq. All these aspects have forged, throughout centuries, the recognition of the kingdom as an international trading hub.

During last two decades, under the leadership of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI, Morocco has changed radically due to political, economic, and social reforms. This overall development has been carried out along with a set of progressive restructuring measures within a constantly emerging economy in an encouraging business environment.

Moroccan economy has been able to attract a record of 33.5 million euro in FDI in 2018, despite the unfavorable international and regional context. At the same time, Morocco has become the second most important investor in Africa.

Macro-economic stability and low levels of inflation are the main fundamentals of the Moroccan economy, which remains solid, attractive and mainly relies on exports, private investment and tourism.

Such a performance makes the prospects, within the framework of the 2020 Finance Law, definitely promising with a target of 3.7% of GDP growth set by the government, and a parallel emphasis on the fiscal backing for companies with the aim to support and encourage investment inflows. I hope that the ongoing situation all around the world because of the CORNOVID19 will not severely influence these prospects.

These trends have been confirmed in the 2020 Doing business report of the World bank, where Morocco is ranked 53rd out of 190 economies, gaining 7 spots compared to 2019, and up by 40 spots from 2012.

The performance of the Moroccan economy remains one of the “highest” in the MENA region due to the proactive dynamics and the sturdy commitment of the Kingdom to create the most favorable environment to boost economic attractiveness and growth.

Please, which kinds of business opportunities are there for Finnish companies in Morocco?

As for the opportunities of investment for Finnish companies, I can assure you that they are uncountable with regard to different incentives accorded by Moroccan authorities. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Morocco has implemented a number of sectorial strategies that could help Finnish companies to focus on their sector of activity with a prior clear overview of the situation.

This has been said, I would suggest that industry, energy, tourism, agriculture and ITC are the main sectors where Finnish companies may find huge opportunities and proper advantages. More specifically, I would recommend some sectors such as water – our two countries have recently signed a cooperation agreement on this matter-, renewable energies, education, aerospace and automobile industries, digital economy and administration.

I would elaborate more on the sector of renewable energies where His Majesty the King of Morocco and His Excellency the President Sauli Niinistö share a strong commitment for its impact on the environment and climate change issues.

Finland is now the leader in circular economy. Meanwhile, Morocco develops the biggest complex of Solar Energy in the World called Noor Solar Power Plant. A multi-site and multi-technology plan, attracting investments from all over the world.

This is an open opportunity for Finnish companies to contribute to achieving the objective, set by Morocco, to reach 52% of electricity consumption based on renewable energy by 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

If a Finnish company decides to invest in Morocco, what are the most important issues this enterprise must take into its consideration to succeed in the market?

In fact, many Finnish companies are already doing successful business in Morocco, in a very beneficial and much appreciated atmosphere. For those companies wanting to follow on the same track and start business in Morocco, I would suggest that they consider some issues related to human relations and local realities, I assume, it will open to Finnish companies, not only the doors, but also the hearts and trust of Moroccan people. In this regard, I would invite them:

To believe in our country’s credibility as an economic partner, with a strong potential for attracting foreign investment and as an important exporting hub in the region.

To put their trust in the Moroccan well-trained human resources and low cost skilled labor force adapted to the market’s needs. This is a key element that will certainly ensure means of success.

To have a better and true knowledge of values that Moroccan and Finnish people luckily share, while having in mind our way of life combining modernity and traditions.

To be guided by the spirit of collaboration and win-win partnerships in order to foster trade relationship with Moroccan companies.

To take advantage of Morocco being a platform towards the very promising economy of Africa. Finland has recently started developing its strategy for Africa. I assume that Morocco is the most viable partner in this regard, thanks not only to the reasons already mentioned, but also thanks to its deep knowledge of its Continent of belonging, African countries and Peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which kind of assistance and which kinds of benefits there are in Morocco for Finnish companies, which would like to invest in Morocco?

When it comes to benefits, Morocco offers a vast range of competitive advantages among which:

The distinctive net of FTAs giving access to nearly 1.6 billion consumers including, the Association agreement with the EU.

The high-level integrated industrial platforms developed by authorities. With such an offer, Finnish investors are able to focus their efforts from the beginning on their core business.

The free-trade zones in each of the 12 regions of the country might help Finnish companies to incorporate their investments into international trade flows and to increase their competitiveness.

The openness of Moroccan economy where the State’s role is limited to its regulatory powers, and no restrictions on capitals or on transfer of benefits for non-residents. Moreover, Morocco offers for instance tax exemption for the first 5 years and on exportations.

The necessary economic infrastructures including 17 airports,  6 port hubs such as the “Tanger Med” complex, the largest port in Africa and Mediterranean – it will be reinforced by two new ports in Dakhla and Nador- high Speed Trains, highways and of course modern and open communication connectivity.

With respect to assistance, Morocco offers divers levels of assistance to Finnish companies.

First, the assistance may start, but not necessarily, at the Moroccan Embassy in Helsinki. We can also visit companies if they wish to.

Morocco has liberalized its economy also by easing procedures, providing better protection to private operators through introducing new laws aiming at improving investment conditions.

Similarly, the Kingdom has put together a range of different institutions in order to accompany the foreign investors throughout the process. Such as regional investment centers, which can assist Finnish investors directly online or on the ground.

Finally yet importantly, in 2019, Business Finland has been established in Casablanca. Its contribution will certainly foster the integration of the Finnish businesses in the Moroccan market.

We know Morocco as a great holiday destination for Finns. Please, tell us more about the tourist attractions and holiday resorts in your country.

Yes, that is true; Morocco was the privileged destination for about 13 Million tourists during 2019. “Lonely Planet” has ranked my country among the top 10 best destinations in the world to visit during 2020, thanks to its safety, stability and hospitality.

Finns are most known to like experiencing local culture and everyday life. Since my arrival to your beautiful country, I noticed that Finns feel happier to travel out of season. In this case, Morocco’s coasts and countryside offer plenty of choices, with its long beautiful Mediterranean and Atlantic beaches, stunning fishing ports, great and lush oases, splendid golden deserts and high mountains.

When it comes to holiday resorts, Morocco offers to the Finns a wide range of accommodations from five stars hotels to traditional Moroccan style “Riads”. For instance, if you like waking up to the sound of swirling waves and the smell of the Atlantic Ocean air through your bedroom window, I would strongly advise to choose your resort in Dakhla, Essaouira or Agadir. If your preferences were to join holiday to sports, for example, in a great golf course, Al Jadida would captivate you with its famous Mazagan resort.

If any Finnish tourist seeks an echo-friendly option, Marzouga or Laayoune deserts are highly recommended. The fans of cultural tourism can take the time for famous sacred music festival of Fes city.

To conclude, I would seize this opportunity to invite more Finnish travelers to experience a trip to Morocco. My hope is that the national carriers will find attractive solutions providing more frequencies with direct and cheaper flights to connect Finland and Morocco. Especially that the Moroccan national carrier is expected to join as a full member the “One world alliance” effective 1 April 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of this overview of the Moroccan economy, I have to thank the Finnish Chamber of commerce for its kind attention and good initiatives towards bilateral trade relations and friendly ties between our countries.


H.E Mohamed Achgalou

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Helsinki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact person for questions:
Anne Hatanpää,
Liaison Manager, International Affairs
Finland Chamber of Commerce
anne.hatanpaa ( a ) chamber.fi

 

21.1.2020

Interview with H.E. Dr. Willibrod Peter Slaa Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania in Stockholm

Economic outlook of Tanzania today – and what are the prospects for the country?

Tanzania is one of the African countries with fast growing economies. This is evidenced by the reports of World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The future is very promising. This can be seen by very vibrant economic activities particularly – infrastructure sector whereby the country’s regional capitals and district capitals are being connected by tarmac roads. Rural roads are being constructed to gravel level. Unfortunately, excessive rainfall since October 2019 washed away many bridges.

The 1500 km Standard-gauge railway (electric) that will link the country from dar to Mwanza on Lake Victory and across to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo is progressing very well. From Mwanza it takes only six hours to Dar by electric train (160km/h to start with for passengers’ trains and 120 km for goods train).

The Infrastructure projects are very critical for the economic development of the country, and an important catalyst for investments.

Inlands there is an ongoing construction of both passengers and goods boats to boost up intra and inter- lakes trade e.g. on Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and Lake Tanganyika. This opens up to the eight landlocked countries thus opening up to a huge market close to 450 million people. This is a huge economic potential, and in fact opening the doors to Africa Free Trade Area with a total population of close to 1.2 billion people. There can’t be an opportune time for investing in Tanzania which is expected to serve as a hub when all infrastructure projects are completed.

Tanzania is now focusing on industrialization, as no country has ever progressed with focus only on agriculture. Tanzania has from Independence been basically agriculture-based country. The policy is now to move from dependence to development assistance to industrialization and business promotion. This is specifically the case with our Nordic countries including Finland. Development co-operation will continue but in the long run business investments and trade are more sustainable as they are more people to people oriented.

Major investments in industries to happen, the government of Tanzania is building a major hydropower dam that is expected to produce 2,115 MW of electricity. This will bring the total installed capacity to over 3,500 that is double the current capacity. This will be enough for the SGR railway line and the industries under construction. The overall goal is to have in 10 years a total installed capacity of 20,000, which will be a combination of hydro, gas, wind and solar energy which are all abundant in the country. This is naturally a conducive environment for major investors as reliable power is a major handicap in most African countries.

The government is putting significant resources in education from free education up to secondary school level (gymnasium and college) and is also heavily funding university education in the form of education loans at university levels. At this particular time emphasis is on science subjects in order to create skilled base for industrialization as stated above.

District and regional hospitals are at different levels of construction as well a health centres and dispensaries up to village level as the current government realizes that you can’t have a well-functioning society unless you have a healthy population.

You may see how all these programs are well knit together to indicate the status of the economic growth of the country.

Which kinds of business opportunities are there for Finnish companies? Please, explain us also which kinds of investment opportunities there are for Finnish companies in Tanzania?

Finland has a very long-standing relations basically going back to pre-independence period. Since independence, Tanzania has very much enjoyed support of Finland through development cooperation, including support in the area of education (in particular adult education), afforestation program (a huge forestry program in Mufindi Njombe Area in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, health program and electrification programs.

The government of Tanzania is now redirecting its partnership with the Nordic countries including Finland in the areas of business investments. The Finnish investors are now beginning to focus on Tanzania. The opportunities for investments are countless. To mention a few, are areas such as information technology, education programs, pharmaceutical industries, industries that add value to all types of agricultural products such as wheat, maize/corn, all types of tropical fruits, forestry products, paper industry, heavy industry such as production of all types of agricultal equipment and implements, and fish processing and all types of mineral processing plants. The sky is literally limit. We are in the process of putting together a business delegation to go Tanzania to meet with their colleagues the Tanzania business community.

To create conductive business environment, Tanzania has created a “ one stop centre” for business registration under Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) accessible online; it has just published an investment Blueprint, and in February 2020 a number of legislative amends will be presented to Parliament thereby creating conducive business environment. It should be understood, that since independence of Tanzania has all through been a socialist country and in the late 1990s it adopted market economy, unfortunately without creating appropriate regulatory frameworks. That is the reason why a lot of legislative amendments are taking place so that the country may also benefit from the abundant resources.

If a Finnish company decides to invest in Tanzania, what are the most important issues this enterprise must take into its consideration to succeed in the market?

For a Finnish business to invest successfully or do successful business, these are few important steps to do:

  1. Just google: Tanzania/ Investment Centre and you will access Tanzania investment portal. It will direct you to various subheadings. Inform yourself properly. You can also access the portal from Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania in Nordic Countries, Baltic States & Ukraine (Stockholm, Sweden)
  2. Before you start business start by educating how to start business in Tanzania. Please get all the relevant forms online. Fill all forms carefully and return them to get instructions from Tanzania Investment Centre on how to proceed. Please do note that for foreign investors it is mandatory capital investment of not less than $ 500,000. (Not cash but in the form of land – in case you will have to buy land, capital for investment and basically startup costs depend on the nature of the investment. You may need to register specifically with TIC to benefit specific TIC exemptions and benefits all accessible online)
  3. If you physically visit Tanzania, please do make sure you do not fall prey to bad middlemen (conmen).  Rather get assistance from your local embassy office in Dar.  They will give you objective assistance and support you while visiting but also travelling to Dar. Do call for assistance from our embassy in Stockholm and we shall provide you with the necessary support.
  4. Please note that the current government has a zero-corruption tolerance. Under the table deals are completely not tolerated (you may encounter some situations such as tips, bribe etc. as it is not 100% possible to wipe out corruption within a span of short time). Do not entertain any of these.
  5. Transparency is the only way to succeed. Follow the regulations, pay government taxes. When you have a proposal please see the appropriate government level to get a solution to your problem.


Which kind of assistance and which kinds of benefits there are in Tanzania for Finnish companies which would like to invest in Tanzania?

Once a company is registered with TIC and or the Economic Export Processing Zone (EPZ) you are entitled to the reliefs thereby offered. Tanzania and Finland have a business treaty and you are entitled to the reliefs protected by it. You may access it from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

Please, explain us how Tanzania has benefited from the free trade agreements?

Free trade agreements are beneficial to the parties. As per terms specified in the respective free trade agreements. Tanzania is currently a member of the EU/ ACP free trade agreement (including Finland), expiring 2020. A new agreement is currently under negotiations.

We know Tanzania as a great holiday destination for Finns. Please, tell us more about the tourist attractions and holiday resorts in your country.

Tanzania is a holiday destination for the Finns. This is based on the following:

  1. Tanzania is a home to the world-famous Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  2. Tanzania is a home to natural great white beaches of Zanzibar (an autonomous part of the United Republic of Tanzania).
  3. Tanzania is a home to snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s 6th highest mountain in the world and the roof top of Africa, being Africa’s highest mountain.’
  4. Tanzania in total has 22 national parks, four new ones just recently created. All national parks have each unique characteristic such as the tree climbing trees of Lake Manyara National Park.
  5. All these together make Tanzania an unforgettable destination. Tanzania is a very peaceful, has a hospitable population and politically very stable.

All these factors, together with the long-standing relations between Finland and Tanzania, naturally makes Tanzania a great tourist destination to many Finns.

Contact person for questions:
Anne Hatanpää,
Liaison Manager, International Affairs
Finland Chamber of Commerce
anne.hatanpaa ( a ) chamber.fi

10.1.2020

Finnpartnership: Entrepreneurial duo waiting on their first cocoa harvest

20 December 2019

ATBO-Invest’s duo of entrepreneurs has set up a cocoa plantation in Ghana and is attracting other investors for its next project.

For cocoa trees to thrive, they need plenty of heat, humidity and fertile soil. Ghana offers just the right conditions, and it is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa behind Côte d’Ivoire, its neighbouring country in West Africa.

Now, a Finnish company has joined the Ghanaian cocoa business: Emmanuel Yakah and Daniel Enkvist, a duo of entrepreneurs, established ATBO-Invest Oy, and the company made its first investment in a cocoa plantation in eastern Ghana. “The area measures 150 acres (approximately 62 hectares), of which 20 acres have been put to use. We aim to expand the cocoa plantation gradually,” Yakah says.

The first cocoa tree seedlings were planted in 2017. According to Yakah, the cocoa trees can be expected to yield a full harvest about five years after planting.

Finnpartnership’s support got the ball rolling

While Yakah and Enkvist wait on their first harvest, they have identified partners in Ghana who will enable the cocoa to be exported to Finland and elsewhere in Europe.

Finnpartnership granted Business Partnership Support to ATBO-Invest for identifying partners. “Finnpartnership’s support has been very important in getting our company off the ground,” says Enkvist.

The company has identified suitable partners and channels for shipping the cocoa. It aims to begin importing cocoa into Finland without any intermediaries. “The large chocolate manufacturers buy the cocoa they need as a semifinished product on international markets. Our target group consists of smaller companies that make high-quality chocolate products and want to buy cocoa beans directly from sustainably produced sources,” says Yakah.

“We will make our final decisions on the cocoa bean sales channels once we have our first harvest,” he continues.

The company plans to expand into cashew nuts

ATBO-Invest’s business idea is to invest in economically viable business projects in Africa. Its operations focus on agriculture. According to Enkvist, the investment company is reaching out to individual investors, companies and organisations that are interested in investing in projects that promote environmentally friendly agricultural practices in Africa. The investment projects must be economically viable, but they also seek to have a positive developmental impact on local communities.

There are currently four permanent employees working on ATBO-Invest’s first cocoa plantation, along with around ten seasonal workers. As the operation expands, it will create dozens of jobs in rural Ghana.
In addition to cocoa, ATBO-Invest is expanding its investments into the production of cashew nuts. Together with its Ghanaian partner, the company has earmarked 100 acres of land for cashew trees, the first of which should be planted in 2020. “We are now looking for investors for this project,” Enkvist says.

This is not an easy task in Finland, as there are still a lot of outdated and false impressions of Africa. “Finns are cautious about investing in Africa. Other Europeans have already invested heavily in Africa. Perhaps we are a little too slow to get started in Finland,” Enkvist states.

The entrepreneurial duo established the cocoa plantation with their own money. “We want to turn it into a success story – a reference project that demonstrates a profitable investment with positive developmental impacts,” Enkvist emphasises.

Source: Finnpartnership articles Entrepreneurial duo waiting on their first cocoa harvest

15.11.2019

Interview with H.E. Ms Christine Nkulikiyinka, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to the Nordic Countries

Economic outlook of Rwanda today – and what are the prospects for the country?

Rwanda is now in its third decade of uninterrupted economic growth and social progress, a remarkable turnaround since the devastating 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Economic growth averaged 7.5% over the decade leading up to 2018, national poverty declined from 59% to 39% between 2001 and 2014, and inequality declined from 0.52 in 2006 to 0.43 in 2017 (Gini index). This is thanks to a highly strategic approach to development; the implementation of economic and structural reforms; and the efficient use of domestic and external resources towards nationally defined goals. Promotion of gender equality has also been key to the country’s recovery and development.

Rwanda’s Vision 2050 outlines the country’s aim to attain Middle Income Country (MIC) and High-Income Country (HIC) status by 2035 and 2050, respectively. The Vision will be reached through a series of seven-year National Strategies for Transformation (currently NST1, 2017-2024), which outline the priority strategies for economic, social and governance transformation. With regards to transformation of the Rwandan economy, this will seek to accelerate inclusive economic growth and development that is driven by the private sector, knowledge and the country’s natural resources.

Looking ahead, Rwanda aims to become a regional trade, logistics, and conference hub, and has undertaken key interventions and significant investments in order to achieve this, including establishing a country wide high speed internet network, the construction of several new international business class hotels, a state of the art convention center in Kigali, expanding the fleet for the national airline carrier RwandAir as well as construction of the new Bugesera International Airport that is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.

Which kinds of business opportunities are there for Finnish companies in Rwanda?

Rwanda is currently ranked by the World Bank as the second easiest country in Africa to do business, and 29th easiest globally (among 190 economies). For comparison, Finland is ranked 17th globally. This means that Finnish companies looking to do business in Rwanda should expect to find a conducive regulatory environment like they may find at home. According to Team Finland, the industry sectors with the greatest potential for Finnish companies are Mining, Energy, ICT, Agriculture and Forestry. This matches with our identified priority sectors.

Rwanda’s economic growth in recent years has been driven by strong growth in the services sector, which has overtaken agriculture as the leading driver of growth. Many companies in the services industry could benefit from professional training from Finnish companies, for example in customer services training and ICT. Kigali’s rise as a top conference and event destination on the African continent means there are plenty of new opportunities in the hospitality sector. Looking at ICT, the Rwandan government is looking to capitalize on previous investments in country-wide fiber optic roll-out by developing high-tech services, including for export. Recently, Mara Phones launched its manufacturing plant in the Special Economic Zone in Kigali, becoming the continent’s first manufacturer of Smartphones. Investments are expected in ICT-enabled financial services, security services and so on.

Value-addition and export of agri-products is a key priority for transformation of the Rwandan agriculture sector and offers business opportunities for Finnish companies. For example, Rwanda is a major coffee exporter, while Finland is recognized as the world’s highest coffee consuming nation per capita. As the country seeks to increase coffee production, while improving local value addition (roasting, packaging, and branding) there are extensive opportunities for companies interested in linking Rwandan coffee to the Finnish market. Other agri-products like nuts, vegetables, flowers etc also offer attractive business opportunities.

Please, also explain us which kinds of investment opportunities there are for Finnish companies in Rwanda?

Rwanda’s sustained high economic growth, stable political environment, ease of doing business, good governance and zero tolerance for corruption make it a lucrative investment destination for Finnish companies. Investors would have access not only to Rwanda’s market of 12.3 million people, but also to an additional market potential of over 125 million people in the East African Community common market and customs union. There has been increased investment interest on Rwanda in recent years from Finnish companies, such as Taaleri Plc that invested in the modern commercial and office complex Kigali Heights.

Finnish companies can have a lot to offer in fostering the management of natural resources and the sustainable use of forests, which is of relevance to Rwanda given the importance of extractives to the Rwandan economy and targets to ensure sustainable exploitation of the country’s forests. The agriculture sector in Rwanda is currently labour-intensive and has yet to reach its full potential, and investments in value addition as well in climate resilience techniques for farming will be necessary for continued economic growth and poverty reduction.

There are other sectors of relevance to Finnish investors such as the manufacturing sector, which remains small but is expected to grow as Rwanda’s economy diversifies. For example, the country imports most of the packaging materials it needs for domestic and regional markets. Specific products in high demand include construction materials (e.g. electric cables, steel materials, wood products), textiles and garments – the country has only one major textile manufacturing company and has banned imports of second-hand clothes, as well as paper and paperboard products.

Additionally, there are considerable investment opportunities in the transport and infrastructure sector (railway, road, air and ferry) in Rwanda, which is key for reducing the cost of travel and trade in the country and region.

If a Finnish company decides to invest in Rwanda, what are the most important issues this enterprise must take into its consideration to succeed in the market?

Given the plethora of business opportunities for Finnish investors in Rwanda, the first issue they may face is choosing one business opportunity and focusing on growing this before taking on the next. Therefore, we encourage anyone to first visit the country and do their research on what opportunities would be most suitable for them to pursue.

As Finnish enterprises get started with their business and start engaging with Rwandan teams and clients, it is important be cognizant of differences between Rwandan and Finnish culture – like it is anywhere in the world.

With regards to language, Rwanda is a multi-lingual society and English and French are the official working languages in business, government and international offices. All Rwandans speak our mother language Kinyarwanda, and some speak Kiswahili to some degree. On some more minor points, Rwandans respect hierarchy, they value physical appearance and follow a casual-smart dress code during the workday. Sandals and shorts are f. ex. not considered appropriate in a working environment.

Which kind of assistance and which kinds of benefits there are in Rwanda for Finnish companies which would like to invest in Rwanda?

Rwanda is an open and easy country to do business, where services are efficient and corruption-free. Finnish companies and investors will appreciate this. It is quick and easy to get an entry-visa upon arrival at the airport in Kigali or through our Embassy in Stockholm. Investors can register a business online in less than 8 working hours. Any citizen of the world can lease or purchase land and property in Rwanda and foreigners who own companies in Rwanda are not required to share their shares or profits with local partners, as some other countries.

For investors, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is truly a ’one stop shop’ for Finnish companies looking to invest in Rwanda. RDB hosts the online investment registration system, and facilitates investors during this process, including the attainment of non-fiscal and fiscal incentives as provided by the Rwandan investment law. Once approved, investors are automatically assigned key account managers to support their projects and facilitate with obtaining visas and work permits, land acquisition, construction permits and so on. RDB can also inform on the fulfilment requirements for various tax incentives available for investors. The RDB Aftercare team also host an Investor Open Day every Friday from 9am-12pm, where investors can go to seek advice with any issues they may be facing.

Please, explain us how Rwanda has benefited from the free trade agreements?

Rwanda is an open economy committed to the strengthening of regional and global economic integration. We are member of three key regional integration blocs: the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) that promote trade and free movement of people. Rwanda also ratified the 2015 Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement between the regional blocs EAC-COMESA-SADC, which incorporates 26 African nations with a population of 632 million people. Rwanda also has international trade agreements such as the Economic Partnerships Agreements (EPA) with the EU.

During his tenure as African Union (AU) Chairperson (Jan 2018 to Feb 2019), our President H.E. Paul Kagame, championed the AU intra-regional free trade agreement, and hosted over 50 African heads of state and government in Kigali in March 2018 for the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA is expected to be the largest trade bloc of its kind, with a potential continental market of 1.2 billion people, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion. Once the AfCFTA comes into effect on July 1, 2020, the signatories will need to drop 90% of their tariffs for imports from other African states, thus greatly boosting intra-African trade. This bears immeasurable opportunities for Finnish companies.  The smartest move would be to get established in Rwanda and, given our geographical central position, get access to the rest of the continent.

Beyond the regional and continental integration, Rwanda is member of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie, providing even more opportunities globally.

We know Rwanda as a great holiday destination for Finns. Please, tell us more about the tourist attractions and holiday resorts in your country.

Rwanda is one of the most gorgeous countries in the world, offering winding roads, peaceful lakes, volcanic landscapes, picturesque sceneries and endless green hills, thereof its nickname “Land of a thousand hills”. In fact Forbes magazine just listed Kigali among the top 20 best places to visit in 2020, citing the capitals cleanliness, safety and enlightening cultural experiences that include world-class modern art galleries, local crafts, fashion and even a coffee co-op run by women making the world’s best coffee. Rwanda is positioning itself as a high-end tourism market, offering plenty of luxury, adventure and eco-tourism options. World-class hotels such as the Marriott or Radisson have recently opened their doors in Kigali.

Rwanda’s countryside also attracts with amazing lakes, villages, landscapes and ecological parks, all from two to five hours driving distance from the capital. You can see the “Big Five” (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and African buffalo) and many more species in the low-lying plains of Akagera National Park or see the mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park. The award-winning eco-tourism brand Singita just opened their exclusive Kwitonda Lodge on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park. An hour’s drive from Volcanoes National Park is the beautiful waterfront town Rubavu, which is lined with charming old mansions, hotels and trendy bars on the lake Kivu shore. Nyungwe National Park, one of the oldest rainforests in Africa and rich in biodiversity, has countless butterflies, orchids, colourful and indigenous birds, thirteen species of primates as well as the famous canopy walk.

The entire country is safe and can also suit the solo traveler. Gallup ranked Rwanda as the safest country in Africa, and for example the possibility to walk alone at night to or from a restaurant is much appreciated by many visitors. For the lovers of active holidays, there are many possibilities such as hiking, cycling, swimming, water sports, etc.

One excellent tourism option that should not be overlooked is the premium infrastructure, connectivity and services that Rwanda offers as a top conference and convention destination in Africa. Business travelers may come to Rwanda for its premier event space and go on to enjoy the other natural and cultural attractions the country has to offer. And did I forget to mention the tropical climate that is not too hot or too cold? This I’m sure most Finns will find agreeable! I welcome you all to visit Rwanda!

Contact person for questions:
Anne Hatanpää,
Liaison Manager, International Affairs
Finland Chamber of Commerce
anne.hatanpaa ( a ) chamber.fi

14.8.2019

Kauppakamari rohkaisee yrityksiä Afrikan markkinoille

Keskuskauppakamari rohkaisee suomalaisia yrityksiä Afrikan kasvaville markkinoille perustamalla erillisen Afrikka-yritysverkoston. Yritysverkosto tarjoaa toimijoille ja asiantuntijoille kanavan vaihtaa tietoa ja kokemuksia Afrikan maiden mahdollisuuksista, kertoi Keskuskauppakamarin toimitusjohtaja Juho Romakkaniemi Kauppakamarin ja ulkoministeriön järjestämässä Afrikan markkinat -tilaisuudessa. Tilaisuuden avannut kehitysyhteistyö- ja ulkomaankauppaministeri Ville Skinnari korosti Suomen haluavan lisätä kumppanuutta Afrikan maiden kanssa, missä yhteistyössä yritysten rooli on keskeinen. Johdonmukaiset toimet kauppasuhteiden kehittämiseksi Afrikan kanssa ovat tervetulleita, korosti ministeri Skinnari.

Kauppakamari haluaa omalta osaltaan vauhdittaa Suomen kaupankäyntiä Afrikan kanssa. Mantereen markkinoille on tulossa 450 miljoonaa uutta työntekijää ja kuluttajaa vuoteen 2025 mennessä. Suomi on ollut aliedustettuna Afrikan markkinoilla muihin Pohjoismaihin verrattuna, muistuttaa Romakkaniemi.

”Toivomme, että Afrikka-verkostomme avulla pystymme karsimaan turhia ennakkoluuloja Afrikan markkinoiden vaikeudesta sekä vahvistamaan yritysten osaamista Afrikan markkinoiden erityispiirteistä. Samalla haluamme tukea Team Finland-kumppanien kuten ulkoministeriön, Business Finlandin, Finnveran ja Finnfundin arvokasta työtä näillä markkinoilla”, korostaa Romakkaniemi.

Keskuskauppakamarin yhteydessä toimii tällä hetkellä jo 17 kahdenvälistä kauppakamaria ja kauppayhdistystä Aasiasta Amerikkaan, joten Afrikka-verkoston perustaminen on luonteva askel kauppakamareiden verkostoyhteistyön kehittämisessä.

”Kukin Afrikan maa on oma markkinansa, mutta markkinoihin liittyy myös yhdenmukaisuuksia. Suomen osaamiselle energia- ja vesiteknologiassa sekä infrastruktuuri- ja ICT-asioissa sekä koulutuksessa riittää varmasti kysyntää. Asiantuntijoiden mukaan Afrikan erityispiirteet hallitsevat yritykset voivat tehdä markkinoilla myös taloudellisesti kannattavaa liiketoimintaa”, toteaa Romakkaniemi.

Myös Afrikan maiden intressissä on siirtyä perinteisestä kehitysavusta entistä laajemmin ja syvällisemmin normaaliin kaupankäyntiin myös Suomen kanssa.

Ministeri Skinnari: Hallitus kannustaa suomalaisia yrityksiä Afrikkaan

Suomi lisää kumppanuutta Afrikan maiden kanssa, todetaan tuoreessa hallitusohjelmassa. Kehitysyhteistyö- ja ulkomaankauppaministeri Ville Skinnari pitää tärkeänä, että myös yrityselämä hakee ennakkoluulottomasti uusia toimintatapoja kumppanuuksien vahvistamiseksi Afrikan maiden kanssa.

”Kauppakamarin aloite Afrikka-verkostosta täydentää hyvin ulkoministeriön ja sen edustustojen sekä Business Finlandin työtä Afrikassa”, sanoo ministeri Skinnari. Hän rohkaisee myös suomalaisia yrityksiä tarttumaan Afrikan kasvumarkkinoiden mahdollisuuksiin.