Visiting Rwandan investment expert Ms Clare Akamanzi has said political will to make bold decisions and listening to concerns of the private sector were some of the cardinal principles Zimbabwe could use to transform its economy within the shortest possible time.
She was sharing Rwanda’s experiences with permanent secretaries and other senior Government officials in Harare yesterday.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) chief executive officer, who is scheduled to address all Cabinet ministers at Munhumutapa Building tomorrow, said opening up the country to the world and adapting to the use of technology were of paramount importance.
She said the setting up of the Rwanda Development Board accelerated the ease of doing business in her country.
The Rwanda Development Board is responsible for making business decisions with investors in all sectors and as a result, it only takes six hours for one to start a business in Rwanda.
Said Ms Akamanzi: “Political will and political support (is important),” she said. “I gave an example at (the) Zimbabwe Investment Authority of a time when the (Rwanda) government decided that all negotiations must be done through Rwanda Development Board, so no minister must negotiate or sign a concession that has not gone through our negotiating process.
“The government created a very strong unit within our organisation for financial, legal and tax analysis and when that was created, in the beginning some ministers still went ahead and signed agreements with investors, yet the law putting up RDB says the one-stop centre should handle that.
“Why you need political support is that the President should put that Minister to task. You can have the laws, you can have the communication, but you should make sure that the political system supports that institutional framework.
“You find out that our President had to step in a lot at the beginning until it became a culture and now we work very smoothly with the rest of the ministries.”
Ms Akamanzi said there was need for Government to tap the private sector on what was working and what was not, as this could help in establishing relevant systems.
“You need to have high-calibre staff,” she said. “To do that, we have to work on remuneration. Government allowed this organisation (RDB) at a level that pays better than other Government institutions, which makes us more competitive in terms of attracting talent.
“We compete with the private sector in attracting the best talent. Technology was very important. I think all the services we give in a particular time would not have been possible if we didn’t use technology. All our services are fully automated.”
Business registration processes and visa applications, she said, could be done online.
“We have made it very easy to access our country,” said Ms Akamanzi. “Today, anyone from anywhere in the world who wants to come to Rwanda doesn’t need to get a visa before they come.
“You all get your visa on arrival. We did that for EAC (East African Community), we did that for Africa and now we have done it for the whole world.”
Ms Akamanzi said Rwandans started by looking at things they could change themselves without help from outsiders and donors.
These included beruacracy, bribery and corruption, she said.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda said Government was trying to come up with a new investment law.
“We also have a largely discretional nature of screening investments which we would want seriously harmonised,” he said. “We also have a multiplicity of and all overlapping business regulatory procedures which we want to simplify and unify.
“We have a tendency or prevalence of silo mentality in our Government. We have lengthy approval processes, which we also want to simplify and get rid of.”
Dr Sibanda said there were plans to merge the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the Special Economic Zones Authority, Zimtrade and the Joint Venture Unit to avoid jublication of duties.
Officials from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the Special Economic Zones Authority, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority made presentations on their operations.
By Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
The Express News