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Rwanda eyes big opportunities from central African bloc

Rwanda seeks to widen business horizons in attempt to become more regionally competitive as the country is re-admitted to the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), eight years after pulling out of the regional bloc.

As founding member of ECCAS in 1983, Rwanda pulled out of the bloc in 2008 to concentrate on its membership to the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Last year in May, the ECCAS summit in Chad welcomed Rwanda as an ECCAS member. An agreement was signed confirming the readmission of Rwanda after its application in 2013.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Francois Kanimba, Rwanda minister of trade and industry said that Rwanda will reap big from various regional economic groupings.

"Our country joining ECCAS is a big opportunity for Rwandan traders to sell their goods and services on a bigger platform across the continent. Local producers will benefit from increased market size which is an important factor facilitating innovation and competition," he added.

Kanimba stated that Rwanda has gained a lot from being a member of multiple regional blocs since each bloc has comparative advantages to the other, ultimately strengthening the country’s economic institutions.

Last week, Rwanda foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, presented the instruments of ratification to Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, the current ECCAS chairperson, that will see the country officially recognized by ECCAS member states.

According to Mushikiwabo, Rwanda will be in position to tap into the potential of the regional bloc in presenting economic resources and investment opportunities to the country.

"Our country returns to ECCAS with commitment to joining other member states in transforming the region for economic development and cooperation," she said.

Mushikiwabo explained that Rwanda’s commitment to various regional groupings will enable the country to expand its market base which resonates with the aspirations of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

Presently ECCAS comprises of eleven member countries, namely, Rwanda, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Other than ECASS, Rwanda is a member of the EAC, COMESA, and Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).


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