KARACHI -  Honorary Consul General of Rwanda, Farooq Aazam Khawaja has expressed deep concern over the lack of awareness about trade potential and lucrative investment opportunities in the African market and urged the business and industrial community of Karachi to effectively penetrate into the African market by exploring this untapped and huge market with a massive population of more than 1.25 billion in 55 countries.

During his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Khawaja said that the recent reports by World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank and other financial institutions around the world have been highlighting this promising market which offers countless trade and investment opportunities. “China, India, France, Japan, EU, US and others have been taking keen interest in the African market as they fully realise its potential but unfortunately, we, the Pakistanis, remain totally unaware and it is a matter of grave concern that this important market is largely being neglected not only by the government but also by the business community as well”, he added.

KCCI President Shamim Ahmed Firpo, KCCI Vice President Muhammad Younus Soomro and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.

Khawaja further informed that Rwanda was the third easiest country to do business in the African region where Pakistani companies can register without any hassle in just a day. It offers excellent business climate with no problems at all in terms of electricity, infrastructure, sewerage, cleanliness and other industry-related facilities.

The business community can enhance trade and invest in different sectors of African economy including pharmaceutical, infrastructure, textile and many others which would surely prove beneficial”, he added.

He further informed that Rwanda has been witnessing strong growth rate of 7 to 8 percent since past many years and every year around 900,000 visitors have been visiting this country where hotel occupancy remain above 90 percent. “A flood of opportunities exist in Rwanda waiting to be attained”, he added.

He pointed out that Rwanda was a member of East African Community (EAC) which also comprises Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. It means that the goods being transited to any of these countries will have duty free access to EAC member countries whereas the travelers do not require separate visas to move from one EAC country to another.

Earlier, the KCCI President, in his remarks, stated that although the relationships between Pakistan and Rwanda were still at an infant stage, the two countries must hold regular bilateral meetings to examine and strengthen areas of cooperation.

He noted that during FY 2016, Pakistan exported goods worth $14.6 million to Rwanda as against $4.8 million in FY 2015 which was an appreciable rise but still very low. On the other hand, imports from Rwanda stood at $13.5 million in 2016 as against $13.8 million in the preceding year, he added.

He said that Pakistan and Rwanda can enhance trade by trading in agricultural products whereas Electronics and Mechanical appliances are among top importing items of Rwanda therefore, Pakistan can further enhance trade by exporting these products to Rwanda.