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Clare Akamanzi, the lawyer in charge of investments in Rwanda

Clare Akamanzi, a lawyer, public administrator, and businesswoman, has been the CEO of the « Rwanda Development Board » since 2017, the governmental institution in charge of promoting private sector investments in Rwanda to hasten its economic development.

Clare Akamanzi is one of the key figures in her country. For the past few years, she has been leading the institution responsible for encouraging private sector investment in Rwanda and improving the business ecosystem to attract more private investors. She also oversees the country’s tourism sector growth strategy. In 2018, she was the one who signed a partnership with the English football club Arsenal to put the words “Visit Rwanda” on the left sleeve of Arsenal’s shirts.

Born in Uganda to Rwandan refugee parents, she attended Makerere University in Kampala and earned a law degree. Then, she graduated from the University of Pretoria with a Master’s degree  in Law, International Trade, and Investment in 2003 (South Africa). During this 18-month program, she spent a semester at Amsterdam University in the Netherlands, and did an internship at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 2004, she began her professional career in Geneva, working in the World Trade Organization headquarters. Her country then appointed her to lead Rwanda’s WTO trade negotiations. Afterwards, she was transferred to the Rwandan Embassy in the United Kingdom in 2006, where she worked as an Economic Affairs Counsellor and was responsible for advancing Rwanda’s economic interests in the UK.

The same year, she returned to her country and was appointed Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency. She held this role for two years, until the creation in 2009 of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) as a result of the merging of the Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency and seven other agencies.

In charge of steering investments in Rwanda

Following this fusion, she became Deputy Director General of Operations, then Director General of Operations of RDB until 2015. Her responsibilities included “promoting private sector growth to accelerate Rwanda’s economic development by encouraging and facilitating investment and exports, privatizing public assets, negotiating public-private partnerships for the government, reforming the business climate, and managing a unique center for investors,”she explains on her Linkedin page.

In 2015, she flew to the USA where she completed a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University, specialising in economic development and leadership. Back in Rwanda, she was appointed in 2016 as “Head of Strategy and Policy Unit” in the office of the President of Rwanda, in charge of advising him on socio-economic strategies and policies and to ensure their implementation, with a view to the economic transformation of the country.

Since 2016, Clare Akamanzi is also the Chairperson of the Board of Aviation and Travel Logistics (ATL), the holding company for Rwanda’s aviation subsidiaries. She is also a Founding Member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation created in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – Global Innovation Index 2020.

In 2020, she was named one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa by Forbes Magazine.