Rwanda is developing a world-class business climate to attract investors.
VK: The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was created in 2008 with the aim of fast tracking Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. RDB is organized around five economic cluster departments, namely Agriculture, Services, Tourism and Conservation, Information and Communication Technology and Trade and Manufacturing. It also has three cross-cutting departments including Investment Promotion and Implementation, Assets and Business Management and Human Capital and Institutional Development. All of our departments work to promote investments in different clusters and the Investment Promotion Department works to facilitate them in the process.
RDB measures its progress through attracted foreign and domestic investments, increased exports and created jobs. We are building on Rwanda’s good governance by creating a world-class business climate that will make Rwanda an attractive hub for business, talent, and innovation. RDB also works to enact structural and cultural reforms to accelerate the country’s strategic growth and development, consistent with Rwanda’s Vision 2020.
What activities does RDB engage in to support government policy in assisting the mining sector?
VK: The Rwandan government has embarked on a number of policies all aimed at supporting and upholding the mining sector. A case in point is the existence of the investment code, which spells out all the support and incentives an investor would acquire when he or she invests in the mining sector. The fiscal and non-fiscal incentives available to investors include acquiring work permits and visas under our one stop center, receiving sector specific information and licenses, negotiation of strategic investment projects on behalf of the government, and tax exemption on imported equipment.
With the current mining code under review in Parliament, what positives changes can we expect to see for investment incentives?
VK: In stimulating and attracting more investments in the mining sector, the government has found it strategic to review the mining code with a purpose of creating value addition to the sector through increasing mineral output, creating more jobs and enhancing the export capacity for Rwandan minerals abroad. Among other things to be changed in the new mining law is the length and time involved in acquiring mining licenses. This change is in response to the difficulty that mining companies experience in accessing loans and financing for their projects. Furthermore, when the new law comes into effect, a number of licenses, such as prospecting licenses, will be scrapped in order to establish exploration licenses in accordance with international standards. The requirements to be granted a license will change to aim at having technically and financially robust companies and cooperatives in the sector.
Can you provide us with an update on the development of the government’s two mining concessions at Bisesero and Kigali North?
VK: The government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Natural Resources issued out a tender in May calling for request for pre-qualification (RFQ) from suitably qualified companies interested in the development of the Bisesero mining concession. Based on the technical and financial ability for the companies to develop this concession, the Ministry is in the process of reviewing the submitted proposal and will be coming up with one final list of successful bidders before the year ends. As for the Kigali North Concession, the government is looking for small cooperatives that would take charge and operate this concession. The Bisesero concession would be a much bigger project so they are targeting both local and international companies. Given the lack of capacity for local operations, we are also encouraging joint ventures with foreign investors, who would bring technology and capital to partner and work with local companies.
Does Rwanda have an adequate skilled labor force to support the increased development of the country’s mining sector?
VK: In terms of human resources in the mining sector, we have a skills gap. The government is looking at training small scale miners in vocational skills to develop skills locally. In addition, the government is also looking at training mining engineers and geologists by sending them abroad to acquire more skills and knowledge. With regards to the mining companies that come to invest in Rwanda, we encourage them to bring technical people with them who can help in teaching and transferring more skills to the local Rwandan people.
What would you describe as Rwanda’s key mining advantages over other neighboring resource-rich countries?
VK: Rwanda’s minerals are tagged using our traceability system, which makes our minerals competitive on the international market. In tantalum, we are the fourth largest exporter in the world. Our coltan, or tantalite, is also very competitive. It has a mineral percentage of around 30% to 40%, which is very high compared to other countries in the region, such as in Congo.
What can we expect to see from Rwanda’s mining sector in the next two to three years?
VK: The mining sector can only improve as we focus on investors who have technical abilities and sufficient capital. Our mining revenues will grow with better technology and more capital, which is why we need to increase foreign investment to help in the shift from artisanal to industrial mining.
This article was produced as part of the research conducted on African mining jurisdictions by Global Business Reports (GBR) as part of our partnership with African Mining Indaba LLC. The aim of this partnership is the production of the single most comprehensive intelligence report on the continent’s mineral sector. The Official Mining in Africa Country Investment Guide, will be launched next February 2014, as the only official publication providing country-specific information at Africa’s top mining event, the 2014 Investing in Africa Mining Indaba™ held in Cape Town, South Africa.