In a bid to further economic and educational ties, Mr.Yuan Jiajun, the Governor of Zhejiang Province, today attended the one-day China–Rwanda Business Forum in Kigali. Governor Yuan Jiajun, was joined in Kigali by a 57-person delegation comprised of Chinese government officials and members of the Zhejiang private sector.
The China – Rwanda Business Forum was an opportunity to showcase business opportunities in both Rwanda and Zhejiang, existing partnerships, as well as act as a platform for networking and business engagement between the respective private sectors.
During the Forum, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) signed four memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with their Chinese counterparts;
1. MoU with the Zhejiang Province Department of Commerce for cooperation on investment trade and industrial zones
2. with Alibaba, extending the generic/framework on eWTP
3. with HEMA, a Chinese supermarket retail chain, to facilitate Rwanda companies to export chilli to China
4. with the Alibaba Business school for capacity building through the Rwanda Higher Education Council.
In addition, an MoU was signed between Alibaba and DP World on logistics and distribution of Chinese products across Africa, using Rwanda as an entry point.
In her opening remarks at the Forum, Clare Akamanzi, the RDB Chief Executive Officer said:
“That many of you traveled a long distance to get here serves to remind us all just how good bilateral relations between our two countries are, and the welcome interest of Zhejiang to have a strong business presence in Rwanda is also proof that Rwanda and China are forging a mutually beneficial future for our people. This is perhaps why an increasing number of Chinese businesses are turning their eyes to Rwanda. In fact, in the last five years, more than 50 Chinese enterprises registered in Rwanda with an investment value of US$250 million. They operate in light manufacturing, agro-processing, construction and mining. Like Zhejiang, in Rwanda we understand the need for a private-sector led economy, especially given Zhejiang’s success in Economic Development Zones, each with pillar industries around which clusters are built. I am confident that in Rwanda you will find the opportunities attractive, and Rwanda to offer the right business climate including investment incentives that are difficult to find anywhere else.”
In her remarks, Minister of Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye said:
“It is very important for business people from Rwanda and China to gather and explore opportunities which exist between our two countries. China remains one of Rwanda’s development partner through a number of projects ranging from infrastructure, health, trade and also in Human resource development be it in Medicine, Aeronautical engineering, Clinical medicine, Petroleum, Agriculture, Electricity engineering and business development. This demonstrates the strong cooperation in various sectors which are a cornerstone in the relationship between Rwanda and China, our relationship with China is now one of Rwanda’s most important, and certainly one of the longest standing. China has continued to lead the way in showing the benefits of engaging and partnering with Rwanda. Your visit here today is likely to set important benchmarks to boost more bilateral and multilateral trade and investment ties between our two countries.”
Mr. Yuan Jiajun, in his keynote address said:
“The cooperation between Zhejiang and Rwanda has achieved fruitful results. In 2018, the trade volume between Zhejiang and Rwanda was worth US$ 34.47 million dollars, an increase of 27.3% compared to 2017. By the end of June this year, Rwanda will have invested in the establishment of seven enterprises in Zhejiang Province with investment of more than US$ 1 million; Zhejiang also invested in two enterprises in Rwanda. In particular, the first eWTP (electronic-World Trade Partnership) partnership was launched in Africa by Alibaba and Rwandan government in 2018, which will help small businesses, young people and entrepreneurs to realize “global buy, global sell, global pay, and global travel”.”
The Rwanda-Zhejiang Province Cooperation
The Zhejiang Province has supported several initiatives in the TVET and digital economy sectors in Rwanda. The Jinhua Polytechnic in Zhejiang Province supported the expansion of Musanze Polytechnic (IPRC) and provided equipment to enhance practical teaching at the school. The Jinhua Polytechnic has also been providing scholarships to Rwandan students since 2014 to train in vehicle inspection and maintenance technology, communication network and equipment, hospitality Management, etc. So far, 42 Rwandans have graduated from Jinhua Polytechnic and 53 are currently enrolled.
Since 2009, the Department of Science and Technology of Zhejiang Province through the China National Bamboo Research Center of the State Forestry and Grassland Administration, supported the implementation of a Bamboo Project, which aims at providing capacity building on bamboo cultivation, processing and utilization of technology, and was organized by and sponsored by Zhejiang Province. The project has trained over 1400 students in the past 10 years who have gone on to establish bamboo processing companies, some of which are export firms.
The Rwanda – Alibaba eWTP Partnership
Under the framework of the e-WTP (electronic World Trade Platform) jointly launched by Alibaba and the Government of Rwanda last year, over 40 Rwandan entrepreneurs have received training from Alibaba Business School. Among them, 10 digital platform builders have graduated from the eFounders Fellowship, a joint program with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and 30 ecosystem enablers, including traditional business owners as well as start-up entrepreneurs, have attended the Alibaba Netpreneur Training. Besides that, Alibaba Business School’s New Economy Workshop hosted 12 Rwandan government delegates from different ministries and departments.
At business level, Alibaba also helps local Rwandan small businesses to leverage its ecosystem and get connected to the 700+ million Chinese consumers on the platform while bypassing costly intermediaries. So far, sales volume of Rwandan coffee increased by 700% on Tmall Global, Alibaba’s cross-border B2C platform.