The first in-person Ghana-Rwanda Business Forum has concluded in Accra with a motivated business community ready to leverage good socio-political relations between the two countries to bolster bilateral trade, and leverage the intra-Africa trade initiative under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
The Minister of Trade and Industry of Rwanda, Dr. Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, who led the Rwandan delegation of over 40 private companies to the business forum, was joined at the launching of the forum by the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry of Ghana, Mr. Herbert Krapa, to officially open the three-day event, which has built upon a number of initiatives implemented over the last three years in line with the objectives of strengthening economic and trade relations between Ghana and Rwanda.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr. Ngabitsinze highlighted the need to forge partnerships, and access other markets with the right products and services. He said: “We can access the markets through roads and through freight but the problem is: what are we offering? We cannot just access the market in our mind; we must access the market with tangible products to serve that market. Let us access the markets with goods and services – both in quantity and in quality – and we are better positioned to utilise economies of scale if we do this in partnership as Africa”.
In his remarks, Krapa said: “Everything the Government of Ghana has done since 2017 has been focused on empowering SMEs and the private sector to grow because when SMEs grow, the economy grows”.
At the opening ceremony, the private sector of both countries shared their challenges and fears with the trade policy-makers during an interactive panel discussion. Panelists included the President of the Association of Ghana Industries, Dr. Humphrey Ayim Darkie; 2nd Vice-Chairman of the Private Sector Federation (PSF)-Rwanda, Mr. Aimable Kimenyi; the Chief Operating Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Frederick Adu-Amoako; the CEO of Igire Coffee, Ms. Briggette Harrington; the CEO of Yayra Glover Limited, Mr. Yayrator Glover; and the Marketing Manager of Enterprise Sina Gerard, Sina Ms. Julienne, with discussions focusing on how to unlock business opportunities between Ghana and Rwanda in the era of the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area initiative.
The over 40 Rwandan businesses met with more than 100 potential business partners in Ghana who attended the forum.
Prior to the forum, the Rwandan delegation also conducted field visits to a number of Ghanaian markets and factories to explore partnership and business opportunities.
Addressing the Rwandan private sector on the third day, H.E Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, emphasised the importance of events, such as the Ghana-Rwanda Business Forum, as building blocks that will lead to achieving Africa’s ambitious targets for intra-Africa trade.
“Increasing multilateral trade includes increasing bilateral trade, and thus, this initiative of the business forum is so important for the AfCFTA’s success in achieving Africa’s agenda of bolstering free movement of goods, services and people.”
Challenging the business community to stay the course no matter the hindrances, SG Wamkele said: “Changing the story of Africa and increasing trading with one another is going to be challenging but it is worth every effort. Nobody is going to improve our continent for us, we must do it ourselves; and the potential is there. We just need to be intentional”.
This forum offered an opportunity to actors from both the public and private sectors to engage and identify ways to harness identified potential into tangible economic output for both countries.
The Ghana-Rwanda business forum was most importantly an opportunity for private sector actors to engage one another to facilitate deal-making and collaboration for joint-partnerships, which the business communities of both countries have found very useful, with a number of the Rwandan companies reporting that the match-making at the forum has enabled them to gain new partners with whom they will be working over the next few months to scale up their business operations.
The event was organised by the Rwanda Development Board in partnership with the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, and with facilitation from the Rwanda High Commission.