Indian firms to open operations in Rwanda, transfer tech to local startups
Databases of some 230 young Indian technologies engaged in more than 26 value chains are ready for acquisition by Rwandan entrepreneurs and business startups, officials have revealed.
An Indian technology-led business delegation, India-Rwanda Innovation Growth Programme (IRIGP), has announced that up to 500 Indian firms will be interlinked with local startups as they set up shop in the country.
IRIGP, an initiative that seeks to foster and strengthen bilateral relations based on science, technology and innovation, was announced on February 20 during the visit to Rwanda of Indian vice-president Hamid Ansari.
Speaking during an IRIGP stakeholder cocktail in Kigali on Tuesday, Munish Gupta, the advisor for the programme, said that by December, 10 Rwandan businesses will already have been matched with 10 Indian counterparts.
Five or six of the local businesses will be funded by by the Government of Rwanda or India, he added.
Gupta, who heads the Indian delegation, said the businesses do not need a lot of funds, noting that their funding might range between $50,000 and $100,000 (about Rwf83 million).
The delegation, comprising 25 representatives of about 20 Indian companies, is in Rwanda for two weeks up to September 6, where they are participating in Rwanda International Trade Fair and Exhibition at Gikondo showground in Kigali.
The companies are exhibiting their technologies in areas including agriculture, healthcare, ICT, clean energy, and waste management.
The Director-General for National Industrial Research Development Agency (NIRDA), Dr Joseph Mungarulire, said the programme is in line with developing Rwanda’s industrial sector based on the research and model of already successful industries in India.
Since the inception of the programme, Mungarulire said, the database of 230 young technologies in over 26 value chains have been identified and is ready for acquisition by Rwandan entrepreneurs and business start-ups.
Effective technologies for good impact
Gupta said they seek to create an ecosystem whereby businesses, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), can avail technologies and innovations from other parts of the world and then create their own technologies and innovations.
“The most important thing, unlike some others, is that Indian enterprises and Government want to create jobs, skill the people of Rwanda, create enterprises in Rwanda, create jobs in Rwanda and that is going to improve employment and the economy of this country,” he said.
Gupta said the most important thing that India learned that Africa needs is to start growth and development from the bottom.
“If the bottom is not helped, and only the rich gets richer, then the country cannot grow,” he said.
He said that some Rwandan entrepreneurs will also be sent to India for training in advanced technological and innovation skills, whereby they will train in the same environment and the same industries or factories as their partners in India.
The training will impart skills, understanding of business scope, and effective implementation strategies.
Mungarulire said: “They (the Indian firms) have technology to treat waste water and turn it into purified water to drink. They also possess advanced technologies that transform banana materials into hygienic papers needed by women.”
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) chief executive Clare Akamanzi said India is important to Rwanda, noting that “the two countries share a common ambition of growing fast, improving the livelihoods of the people, and investing in innovation in different sectors that are growing the economy.”
“India has expertise and a lot of experience in interesting sectors, including agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, machinery, chemicals, software, IT, which are sectors of priority in our country as well,” she said, pledging an enabling environment for the programme to flourish.
The chief executive of Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, said technology has no boundaries, and that almost everything today involves technological innovation, citing operation services and manufacturing sectors.
“We are moving away from normal business into fast, efficient and effective technological services,” he said.
The contribution of industrial sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product is currently 14 per cent, while under Vision 2020 the country targets 20 per cent.
It accounts for 14.4 per cent of employment with over 85 per cent covered by non-industry sectors, mainly agriculture.