The proposed Bugesera Special Economic Zone, which was recently approved by the cabinet, is now attracting industrial firms with government sources revealing that more than 20 investors have already booked space in the area.
Business Timesrecently conducted a tour of the economic zone and found construction activities underway in preparation for offices and factories that will host firms, including Qatar investors AlMaha.
Almaha will manufacture fridges, washing machines, cookers, and solar water heaters, among other things.
EnviroServe Rwanda, an e-waste recycling plant, is already operational recycling electrical and electronic waste from old computers, telephones, printers, refrigerators and other types of equipment.
Already, roads have been built around the 100-hectare land, where the first phase of the project will be constructed, water pipes are in place for installation to ensure water access with electrical installation set to begin soon too.
This progress has caught the eye of a section of investors who have already expressed interest in booking space in the area.
During our tour, officials told Business Times that there were more than 20 investors who had booked spaces to set up shop in the area.
They include OCP Group, Mahwi Grains Milling, World Transport Power, VR Industries, AfriFoam, Sunrise Overseas, First Pharma, and BioChem.
According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, these investors will be involved, among other things, in the manufacturing of fertilizers, pharmaceutical products, packaging and iron sheets, Coltan processing, textiles and garments, and motor vehicle assembling.
The firms are from Rwanda, India, Morocco, China, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), USA, Burundi, Egypt and South Korea.
Naphtal Kazoora, the Head of Special Economic Zones Authority of Rwanda at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), attributed the development to work being done to build confidence among investors hinged on a favourable ecosystem for them to operate in.
“The demand is based on the fact that investors are already seeing that Rwanda is committed to facilitating them to easily operate in the country,” he noted, adding that they expect the park to generate more economic value than the Kigali Special Economic Zone, the biggest industrial park in the country.
Bugesera Special Economic Zone is located in Bugesera District, about a 15-minute drive from the current location of the much-awaited Bugesera International Airport that’s under construction.
The government seeks to attract a number of players to set up industrial plants that will see Rwanda become a major producer and manufacturer of different products.
Kazoora’s argument that the park will bring more jobs and foreign direct investments is based on the analysis that Bugesera International Airport could be a strategic hub for cargo, facilitating the movement of exports.
So far, most works for the first phase one of the projects have been done. The area has a combined size of 330 hectares to be built in three different phases.
Kazoora said there is ongoing analysis of demand and markets that the Government is currently conducting and it is expected to be by completed by June next year. This will guide them in determining the type of industries that will be attracted to the area in the future.
The zone is among the ten proposed special economic zones that the Government wants to establish to address infrastructure constraints to Rwanda’s industrialisation.
“Kigali Special Economic Zone is almost full. These zones are usually prime land making them very expensive. We had to take into account industries that could not afford the space in Kigali,” Kazoora said, highlighting why they decided to invest in another major industrial park outside Kigali.
A recent assessment conducted indicated that Kigali Economic Zone was hosting 31 industrial firms and 15 warehouses, while 20 more industrial firms and seven warehouses were still under construction.
Over 15,000 people are employed at the Zone.
The Government avails serviced land and incentives to companies and businesses targeting regional market.
There are over 1,000 hectares of land earmarked for the development of Special Economic Zones across the country.
The overall target is to have the industrial sector contribute 20 per cent to the GDP by 2020.