Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Invest Barbados have signed an agreement to promote and implement strategic private sector investments in both countries. The signing took place on the sidelines of 26th Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM).
The agreement was signed by Clare Akamanzi the Chief Executive of Rwanda Development Board and Kaye-Anne Greenidge, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados. Invest Barbados is an economic development agency of the Government of Barbados.
Among the strategic sectors mentioned in the agreement include Agro-processing for local and export markets, Tourism, Health, Mining, Real estate and Financial Services.
Greenidge said that among other things, the MoU seeks to foster connection between the two nations and consequently their respective regions; Africa and the Caribbean.
President Paul Kagame visited the Caribbean nation in April whereby he held talks with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and witnessed the signing of an agreement aimed at strengthening cooperation between Rwanda and Barbados.
The recent agreement signed on Friday was preceded by a visit in May this year by a delegation from Barbados led by the Trade Minister, Davidson Ishmael on a knowledge exchange visit which explored a number of areas, including tourism promotion and financial services.
Following the visit, The New Times understands that there have been several virtual meetings to forge partnership going forward.
Kaye-Anne Greenidge, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados told The New Times that the two countries and their respective Regional economic blocs have unexplored opportunities in aspects such as trade, investment, knowledge and experience sharing as well as cooperation on the international scene.
Greenidge said that the MoU will see the countries discuss avenues to connect the two countries such as connecting flights which would reduce the cost and time taken to travel between East Africa and the Caribbean.
She noted that while the two countries could be mistaken for ‘small countries’ they serve as ideal entry points into the regions with Barbados largely serving as an investment hub into the Caribbean and Rwanda for East and Central Africa.
With regard to knowledge exchange, Barbados has interest in learning from ongoing ICT inclusion in service delivery through Irembo and have since had several engagements with the local team.
Rwanda could in turn benefit from the Caribbean nation’s long experience in the hospitality and tourism sector diversification as well as biodiversity conservation.
On trade, Rwanda could find an entry point into the Caribbean region through Barbados for exports from the agriculture and mining sectors among others.
Greenidge said that from the ongoing efforts to link the two countries ought to be complemented by private sector follow-up to make the most of the opportunities. Already, there exists a Double Tax Agreement that reduces cost of operations and increases attractiveness of opportunities.
The treaty covers Barbados income tax and corporation tax, and covers Rwandan personal income tax, corporate income tax, and the tax on rent of immovable property.
Sunir Chandaria, the President/CEO of Toronto (Canada) based Chandaria Family Holdings, Inc and has experience with investments in North America and the Caribbean told The New Times that the ties and agreements (including DTA) between Rwanda and Barbados could unlock capital for the two countries from global investors.
This, Chandaria who is also Honorary Consul of Kenya in Toronto said, would be characterized by the ease of structuring investments in one of the countries while business operations happen in another without concern of double taxation.
This could for instance see Canadian listed companies with interest in value addition in mining structure their investment through Barbados and operate in Rwanda.
Emery Rubagenga, a local businessman who is a frequent traveler to Barbados mentioned that there is a huge interest from the Rwandan private sector players to attend the first Africa-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum that Afreximbank is organizing in Barbados from 1st to 3rd of September.
Barbados also had a business delegation visiting Rwanda on the sidelines of the just concluded CHOGM to explore available opportunities and cooperation avenues.