The chairman of the taskforce overseeing the creation of the Kigali Free Trade Zone (KFTZ) in Rwanda has said it will be launched in April this year.
Speaking to Business Times, Alex Ruzibukira, head of the Kigali Free Trade Zone initiative at the state-run Rwanda Development Board, said around 90 per cent of the work on the 250-hectare project has been completed.
With the necessary infrastructure now in place, investors will be able to commence construction of factories and warehouses.
The KFTZ will to help diversify exports and reduce Rwanda’s trade deficit by offering benefits to investors such as the waiving of duty on raw materials imports, as well as zero income, corporate and value-added tax.
It is hoped that the KFTZ will create a central distribution point that can serve the smaller local markets in the region, thus supporting the development of larger wholesaler traders, which should lower the cost of importing and lead to an increase in trade.
Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) trade blocs, but it has suffered from the high cost of transporting goods long distances to and from the Indian Ocean coast.
"The ultimate hope Rwanda wants to meet is to position this country as a hub so we see a flood of goods and businessmen in this country", Ruzibukira said when the KFTZ was announced in November 2009.