Expo 2020 Dubai: An opportunity to connect

This week, the world will come together in Dubai for the long-awaited Expo 2020. The coming months will provide us all with a unique opportunity to collaborate and learn from our international partners and to showcase the nation of which we are so proud. We are thankful to the organisers of this fantastic event, and for the warm welcome we have received from our hosts in the United Arab Emirates.

We couldn’t be more excited to work towards the Expo’s overall goal that is – “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Over the past 18 months, the world has been brought to its knees by a devastating pandemic. For the next six months, we will pursue opportunities to connect with our partners from around the world as we all collaborate to rebuild towards a brighter future.

Crucial to this rebuilding is the inclusion of nations and people from around the world. The inclusivity of the Expo is a significant achievement in this regard. Dubai is the first Expo hosted from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. It will also be the first Expo where every single African country will have a pavilion. In many ways, Expo 2020 Dubai promises to be the most inclusive Expo in history.

Rwanda’s theme throughout this event will be ‘Opportunity’. We believe that Rwanda represents the best of the immense opportunities that Africa has to offer. Over the last 27 years, we have proven that Rwanda works, and we hope that by showcasing our national story and our commitments to future progress, we can help inspire others to join us in our quest for a better tomorrow.

Our pavilion is a representation of this story of hope – an immersive journey through Rwandan history. It is segmented into four thematic zones: Dusk, Night, Dawn, and Day. Visitors will travel first through Rwanda’s traditions by a visit at “Dusk” to the traditional palace of the King in the pre-colonial era.

The “Night” era commemorates our nation’s darkest moment – the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – and draws on lessons from the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. The “Dawn” zone will showcase Rwanda’s rebirth after 1994, highlighting how our people harnessed their dignity, unity, accountability, and ambition to rebuild the nation of which we are so proud.

Finally, the “Day” section will invite visitors to discover Rwanda’s plans for the future. Visitors can also take a trip to three of Rwanda’s national parks including the Volcanoes National Park to see our majestic gorillas, in an unforgettable virtual reality experience

As Rwandans, we know how important it is to learn from our past and take strength from it. We hope that this interactive journey through our history will help visitors to better understand our nation, our hopes, and our dreams for the future. The combination of our impressive track record and our strong, clear ambitions for the future make Rwanda an ideal destination for investment.

As a country, we are committed to maximising the potential of our country, our region, and our continent.

This is why we are seeking to become a hub for regional investment. Just last week, the Kigali International Financial Centre was recognised by the Global Financial Centres Index as its only centre in the African interior. KIFC is ranked among one of the 15 financial centres likely to become more significant in the future.

We believe that this unlocks immense opportunities for investors from around the world, facilitating avenues of collaboration, which have previously been filled with obstacles.

To encourage this investment, Rwanda has worked to create an investor-friendly environment for business and investment leveraging its proven track record of good governance and efficiency. In February 2021, we put in place a new investment code that created more incentives for potential investors.

In the era of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), these opportunities are yet more exciting. We are determined to continue making this environment even more attractive and the results are showing. We ranked 2nd in Africa in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and 4th in the Rand Merchant Bank’s Where to Invest in Africa report.

One area where we are particularly excited to pursue development is technology. We want Kigali, and Rwanda more widely, to become the leading pan-African hub for technology and innovation.

The foundation for this ambition is already in place: with strong fundamentals in terms of infrastructure, supportive policies, a diverse pan-African talent pool, and a favorable business environment. Increasingly, Rwanda will become a launchpad into Africa for key players throughout the global technology sector.

This is why we are investing in exciting projects. Kigali Innovation City (KIC), a joint venture with Africa50, is one such example. KIC is a technology and innovation park that brings together exciting talents from across Africa. It will nurture a vibrant ecosystem centred around high-tech innovation and talent development that will hopefully come to benefit the entire continent.

Another area that is central to Rwanda’s vision, and at the heart of the world’s priorities, is the environment. Green investment in the developing world should be at the forefront of the global agenda and it will no doubt be a major point of discussion at the upcoming COP26 conference.

Our Vision 2050 puts green projects at the heart of our development. Rwanda’s commitment to green investment – spearheaded by FONERWA, the Rwanda Green Fund – has manifested itself in a number of key projects in recent years. Biodiversity has been a particular focus, including the expansion of the Volcanoes National Park (where the number of mountain gorillas has now surpassed 1,000), reforestation activities planting over 43 million trees in the next year, and the restoration of Nyandungu Wetland complex.

The Green City Kigali projects and ongoing investments into Smart Mobility are also examples of Rwanda’s commitment to building resilient cities. We are eager to support the first of the Expo’s thematic weeks in particular – the Climate and Biodiversity week - by showcasing our own success stories as well as build partnerships, which will allow us to deliver even greater progress in the future.

Our vision for our future, for the world’s future, can only be realised through partnership and collaboration. The Expo, therefore, represents a unique opportunity to move forward as an international community. 

We cannot wait to greet visitors at our pavilion and to work together with our partners over the next week. Together, we can help lay the path for a better tomorrow.

Yves Iradukunda; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. The Commissioner General Rwanda Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.