EDITORIAL: Take a leaf out of Rwanda manual on investment

Friday November 8 2019

On Wednesday, the Member for Misungwi Constituency, Mr Charles Kitwanga, revealed an issue that’s of great concern all-round. Mr Kitwanga told the National Assembly session in Dodoma that Europe’s largest carmaker, the German Volkswagen (VW) Group, initially sought to invest in motor-vehicle production in Tanzania a few years ago.

But, the prospective investor just as soon shifted focus to neighbouring Rwanda, where the first ‘Made-in-Rwanda’ Volkswagen rolled off the CFAO Motors-Rwanda production line in Kigali on June 27, 2018, with the slogan ‘Volkswagen: Moving with Rwanda.’

With a planned annual production of 5,000 VW makes in its $20 million initial investment – which also created 1,000 new jobs for Rwandans – the manufacturer will in due course also build ‘Passat, Tiguan, Amarok’ and ‘Teramont’ models of the historic VW brand in Kigali. According to Mr Kitwanga, all that low-hanging investment fruit – so to speak – was for Tanzania to easily pluck... Except for one reason: apparently, Rwanda’s investment climate was more business-friendly than Tanzania’s at a time when it mattered most!

Mr Kitwanga was Tanzania’s Home Affairs minister from Dec. 12, 2015 to May 20, 2016, when he was relieved of that post by President John Magufuli on disciplinary grounds.

Whatever is the case, though, the MP’s revelation – which for all practical purposes amounts to shutting the stable door after the proverbial horse has bolted – must not be pooh-poohed even at this rather late hour.

For the umpteenth time, the relevant institutional authorities – including especially the government – are reminded to constantly revisit the country’s investment policies and regulatory frameworks. This is with a view to always ensuring that such investment opportunities not only come our way, but are also effectively plucked in the best interests of the country and its people.

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If necessary, we should take a leaf out of Rwanda’s book on this –functional as it has proved to be time and again.