A Visionary Investment
Tanzania's wealthiest man, Mohammed Dewji, known fondly as Mo, has set his sights on Rwanda. His business conglomerate, Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL) Group, is gearing up to infuse a staggering $100 million into Rwanda, with an ambitious plan to invest in four prominent companies operating across strategic sectors.
Ranked 13th on Forbes' list of the richest individuals in Africa, with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion, Dewji is making a substantial bet on the Rwandan economy. This strategic move stems from his meeting with Rwanda's Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Ildephonse Musafiri, and the Deputy Chief Executive of the Rwanda Development Board, Nelly Mukazayire, held in September in Dar es Salaam. During this meeting, Dewji received the green light to channel his investments into one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.
Dewji had initially expressed his interest in investing in Rwanda during a 2021 interview with Forbes, stating that he intended to invest $50 million. However, he has now decided to double that amount, showing his unwavering commitment to Rwanda's growth.
With land already acquired in Rwanda for this venture, the $100 million will find its way into four Rwandese companies, with a significant focus on the manufacturing and processing sectors. These companies are poised to elevate the production of various essential products, from carbonated beverages to soap, wheat, and maize flour, edible oil, plastic bottle recycling, agriculture, and fuel storage.
A Regional Powerhouse
MeTL's influence extends well beyond its home base in Tanzania. Operating in 11 countries across Eastern, Southern, and Central Africa, MeTL offers a diverse range of products, with a portfolio of over 150 items. With more than 38,000 employees, the family-owned conglomerate plays a vital role in the formal employment sector, accounting for over 5% of jobs in Tanzania. Dewji, in an interview, pledged to multiply the company's employment figures fivefold. As of 2022, the group's revenue had already surpassed the $2 billion mark.
A Leap in Manufacturing
Driven by sky-high ambitions, MeTL is actively competing with multinational giants like Coca-Cola and Unilever. Dewji shared his vision of setting up factories in locations where Pepsi and Coca-Cola dominate. With the aim of increasing production from one billion bottles to three to four billion within the next few years, he's on a mission to redefine the industry.
The investment isn't confined to beverages; Dewji also plans to channel an additional $50 million into establishing thousands of hectares of new hybrid tea for export and local consumption.
Last year, Dewji revealed his plan to launch an agriculture company worth up to $4 billion on the New York or London stock exchanges, capitalizing on funds primarily raised from development banks.
Rwanda's Economic Ascent
Rwanda, known as the 'land of a thousand hills,' boasts a burgeoning economy. With a population of about 13 million people, the country has seen robust economic growth. Rwanda's economy recorded a 9.2% growth in the first quarter of 2023, following an 8.2% surge in 2022. This remarkable expansion is attributed to private consumption in the services sector, reduced inflation, and labor market improvements.
Foreign direct investment inflows have played a pivotal role in generating high-quality jobs, with a favorable regulatory environment attracting investors. Moreover, Rwanda's fiscal discipline and prudent management of expenditure have reduced its debt as a percentage of GDP for the first time since 2013.
The country's GDP, exceeding $10.3 billion, reflects its dedication to political stability, which has been upheld since the 1994 genocide.
Manufacturing Sector's Growth
Rwanda's manufacturing sector, contributing over 17% of the country's GDP, has witnessed substantial growth. This has been facilitated by increased industrialization and government involvement in manufacturing industries. With an investment-friendly environment that includes tax exemptions and duty-free imports of raw materials, Rwanda has been a welcoming destination for foreign investors. In 2022, net foreign direct investment inflows reached $398.5 million, a substantial 3% contribution to GDP.
Rwanda's Investment Promotion
The Rwanda Development Board plays a pivotal role in attracting foreign investors. It conducts international road shows and facilitates investor meetings. This approach, supportive and welcoming, has attracted MeTL to Rwanda.
As Dewji continues to chase his vision, Rwanda's economy is set to flourish further. His investments promise not only employment opportunities but also economic growth, ultimately fostering a brighter future for Rwanda's business landscape.