Rwandan business players are gearing up to explore and leverage trade and investment opportunities in the Caribbean nation of Barbados, building on the strong bilateral relations between both countries.

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Through an investment forum dubbed “Strengthening Economic and Cultural Ties” organised by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in collaboration with Invest Barbados, local business leaders will head to Bridgetown, Barbados from August 3 to 8.

Officials from RDB indicate that the high level business forum will be attended by members from both public and private sectors to discuss various partnership opportunities in sectors such as energy, e-mobility, ICT, wellness, financial and legal services, agriculture, general trading and manufacturing, as well as tourism and cultural services.

This is the first business trip between both countries as a result of several cooperation agreements concluded over the past few years, and efforts from counterpart leaders to strengthen south-south cooperation.

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However, one can say that there is cooperation when things move from signing of MoUs to tangible engagements across sectors, leading to the development of both economies.

For instance, when Steve Andrews, a massage and wellness therapist, came to Rwanda to train local wellness practitioners at the end of June, he found a young but yet budding industry.

The Barbados-born therapist with over 26 years of experience trained about 50 therapists from Rwanda on spa standard development and different techniques used in therapy, building on created bilateral relations.

According to him, both countries have a lot in common and a lot to share for the mutual benefit of their people, hence, the need to drive this alliance to create a meaningful impact on the African continent and the Caribbean region.

He said that Barbados being a service-based economy, it is very much advanced in the tourism and hospitality sector, presenting a knowledge-sharing opportunity with Rwandans, more so in service delivery.

On the other hand, Andrews said there is a lot that Barbados can draw from Rwanda such as the advanced technology adoption and innovations in comparison with the country, agriculture, and financial ecosystem, among others.

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The GDP per capita of Barbados is $17,000, with a small demography of less than 300,000 inhabitants.

Emery Rubagenga, the honorary consul of Rwanda to Barbados, noted that many challenges that might currently constitute a barrier to the development of the Barbados-Rwanda relationship should actually be perceived as opportunities that should be explored in-depth.

For instance, the absence of an airline connecting the African continent and the Caribbean region is a good example. The signature of an Air Services Agreement is already a good step in the right direction.

“The relationship between Barbados and Rwanda is driven by both leaders, they are very committed to having strong diplomatic ties established, enabling business or even investment strategic partnerships. Our mission is to be a bridge to enable business and investment exchange to happen,” he added.

When the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, was last in Rwanda, both countries signed an air service agreement that would enable the goal of having an airline that connects the African continent with the Caribbean region.

Frank Gisha, Director General of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, said this upcoming business forum presents investment opportunities in tourism as an important pillar of income-generation to the country.

In addition, there will be business-business exchange, joint sales promotion, and capacity-building for business players in this sector, he said.

“Bilateral trade ties between both countries is an absolute necessity. It’s more of complementarity than competition.”

CAPTION: Officials of both delegations in a group photo during the Rwanda-Barbados Investment Forum in Kigali on the sidelines of Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Amor Motley'visit, on November 9,2022. Courtesy