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Setting Up and Operating an Investment in Rwanda

Rwanda has comprehensively improved its business environment through the enactment of the Investment Code 2015 on Investment and Export Promotion and Facilitation as the main law governing the country’s investment regime. The Investment Code calls for equal treatment of foreign and local investors. The Code also outlines the incentives available to investors who qualify.

Article 6 of the Code provides that the government is responsible for protecting invested capital and shall not acquire the rights of an investor … no action to expropriate an investor’s property in public interest shall be taken, unless the investor is given fair compensation in accordance with the laws. The specificity of this provision is comforting for foreign investors who fear loss of their investment at the hands of the Rwandan government.

In 2008, Rwanda established Rwanda Development Board (RDB) as a successor to the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (RIEPA). The RDB is a multi-institutional body which was created by bringing together eight existing related public institutions and agencies to provide investment-related services under one roof and reporting directly to the office of the President. These include Rwanda Investment & Export Promotion Agency; Centre for Support to Small and Medium Enterprises; Rwanda Commercial Registration of Service Agencies; Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Unit; Privatization Secretariat; Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks; Rwanda Information and Communication Technology Authority; and Human and Institutional Development Agency (HIDA)(represented by a Unit of Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development).

RDB is Rwanda Government’s specialized agency operating as a One-Stop Centre for investment. It is tasked with the mission to fast-track economic development in Rwanda.  Its mandate is to enable private sector growth towards the transformation of Rwanda into a hub for global business, investment, and innovation. RDB invites, receives, and facilitates international investors to take full advantage of Rwanda’s sustained high economic growth, robust governance, investor-friendly climate, accessibility to markets within the region, and a range of well-planned projects for direct investment.

Investors (local or foreign) who choose to register with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) can apply for additional benefits. An Investment Code adopted in 2015 specifies all fiscal incentives available to investors depending on the sector and amount invested.  The benefits provided to holders of investment certificates consist mostly in access to facilitation services, fiscal incentives, and the entitlement to three work and residence permits for foreign citizens for an investment of at least two hundred and fifty thousand (USD 250,000), investment protection and guarantees for the repatriation of funds.

Through Company Law (2017) that governs companies, their incorporation, registration, functioning, winding up and other related matters, Rwanda provides a foundation for investor protection. This is complemented by Investment Code (2015) that has important protections of particular concern to foreign investors. This makes Rwanda one of Africa’s most open FDI regime, with no restrictions on FDI entry and establishment. All foreign investments are allowed without screening or restriction of amount or sector, and foreign investors are granted national treatment for most intents and purposes. A positive element per se, this high degree of openness makes it all the more important that other regulations (relating to public health, consumer interests, environmental protection, etc.) be properly established and enforced

Investors (local or foreign) who choose to register with the RDB can apply for additional benefits. The Investment Code specifies all fiscal incentives available to investors depending on the sector and amount invested. 

Article 42 of the Constitution specifies that “every foreigner legally residing in the Republic of Rwanda shall enjoy all rights save those reserved for nationals as determined under this Constitution and other laws.” The Constitution also grants protection over private property rights, which can be expropriated only for reasons of public interest and following fair and prior compensation. In addition, holders of investment certificates are entitled to fair compensation in a convertible currency in case of expropriation. They also benefit from the guarantee that the compensation will be free of any tax or duty and freely transferable overseas.

Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC) was created by an act of Parliament in 2011 at the initiative of the Private Sector Federation in partnership with the Government as an independent body. The aim of KIAC is to strength the Capacity of Economic Operators in Rwanda to resolve their disputes themselves without need to go to courts. Investors can also utilize the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to address investment disputes.


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