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Lebanese investors eye Rwanda

Leading Lebanese entrepreneurs are set to visit Rwanda later this year to explore investment and trade opportunities, according to at official in the Rwandan embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

Eric Rugamba on Wednesday told The New Times that a declaration of interest in one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, by Lebanese entrepreneurs, was made by the Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Lebanon (FCCIAL), Mohamed Choucair, at the closure of a Rwanda Trade and Investment seminar at FCCIAL’s headquarters, in Beirut, on Monday.

Rugamba said that Choucar, a leading businessman, undertook to lead a delegation to Rwanda in October.

Rugamba said Choucair, who co-chaired the seminar with Rwanda’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Williams Nkurunziza, welcomed the new engagement with Rwanda and expressed a desire to see more trade and investment flows between the two countries.

“Companies that expressed interest in the Rwanda proposition operate in sectors like furniture and paint manufacturing, agro-industry including coffee and nut growing and processing, micro-finance, motorcycle manufacturing and petroleum goods trading,” he said.

Khalil Boueri, president and founder of Watermaster Holding which deals in water treatment, swimming pools as well as waste water treatment contracting, among others, said he would visit Rwanda soon to ensure that his company, which is based in Qatar and Lebanon, is among the first to get involved in Rwanda.

“Our engagement with potential Lebanese investors is an exercise that has an advantage already compared to any other similar engagements. This is simply because the Lebanese have a satisfactory level of understanding of Africa in general,” Rugamba said.

“There are over 4.5 million Lebanese living in Africa and many Lebanon based companies are already in business collaboration in various parts of Africa.”

Lebanese exports to Rwanda amounted to $281,000 in 2016 while the former imported nothing from Rwanda.

Choucair pointed to the “need to do more,” in both directions.

A statement from the Rwandan embassy says that, while addressing the seminar which was attended by 30 of Beirut’s major business groups, Amb Nkurunziza highlighted Rwanda’s readiness for business.

He talked of Rwanda as a virgin economy and an excellent launchpad for discerning entrepreneurs keen on building an enduring business presence in the heart of Africa.

Amb. Nkurunziza shared with participants benefits for industrial investments represented by the flagship Made-in-Rwanda campaign as well as opportunities for investments in agro-industry, including large scale production of fruits, vegetables and poultry.

The embassy says Lebanon is a major producer and exporter of vegetables and fruits, such as table grapes and apples.

The envoy also provided information on issues such as land ownership, capital repatriation, labour skills and costs, purchasing power and industrial protection.

Others at the event were Rwanda’s Honorary Envoy in the Middle East, Tarek Ragheb, and Hana Hallaj, the Managing Director of the Kigali-based INTech Investments Ltd as well as William Saad, a leading Lebanese businessman and partner in ISH which owns 26,000 telecommunication towers in several countries, including Rwanda.

The three, who have business experience in Rwanda, told participants that the country is “like an efficient European economy operating in the heart of Africa.”

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