As Rwanda and the rest of the world takes a knock due to the commodity slump, the country’s Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Claver Gatete believes the investment in infrastructure is the way to invest in the economy in the long term.
Rwanda is aiming to establish herself as a business hub, with numerous investments in transport, power, water and transport infrastructure to reduce logistical costs within the region.
“We are really focusing on infrastructure and our head of state has already highlighted this at a national level but also at a regional level.”
At the national level Rwanda is focusing on energy and transport – including the rural roads and electrification to boost the country, said the minister.
At the same time Gatete says the ministry is also prioritising a link with the rest of the region, the East African community, which is reflected in the Northern and Central corridors in transport infrastructure.
“This is what is going to help us in terms of facilitating the trade within the region and at the same time, focus on making it easier and also making sure to have the cross-border infrastructure in place,” he said.
Gatete says one of the “biggest shocks” on the economy has been the slowdown in China, together with the oil price coming down, the Eurozone’s slow recovery and the rising interest rate in the United States.
“Which has a double impact, one is taking away the private resources because it’s more marketable another one is affecting our currencies in terms of appreciation – it has appreciated over almost all of the currencies and that affects our balance of payments,” said Gatete.
“Each country is affected differently but we all have to adjust – within this period of adjustment, we see the slowdown in the economic growth on the African continent but also even globally.”
Despite the above deterrents, Gatete believes investing in infrastructure is a long-term investment and will sustain the economy.
“Investing in infrastructure is investing in the future – we need infrastructure to make sure that trade happens.”
If we can trade more within the region, it becomes the buffer – the back up in case there are shocks outside for our own goods that we produce in our country – then we can start seeing how we can extend it to other parts of the African continent.”