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It was quite a coincidence meeting Nobert Haguma in a Chinese restaurant in the Rwandan capital Kigali, while Nobert was talking with several Chinese people in a nice and polite manner. I didn’t hear his pitch-perfect Mandarin until I came closer to him. When I sat down and talked with him for less than 10 minutes, I found out he was so familiar with China’s current political, cultural and economic situation that he was truly a ‘China expert’ in all aspects.



Nobert Haguma, the first on the left


Nobert Haguma, born in Rwanda in 1983, is now the COO of Kiziga Ltd, founder of Young African Professionals and Students (YAPS) and Vice Chairman of the Rwandan Diaspora Associations. Nobert has been engaged in China-African investment area for seven-years long. His father was the first Ambassador to China designated by the new Rwandan government after the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. His mother was the former Vice Minister of Rwanda Department of Agriculture.


He was reluctant when he was required to travel with his father to China at the age of 12 in 1995.

'I thought it would be nice if I could go to a developed western country while China was still in a stage of ancient backwardness. What I knew about China was only Kung Fu movies’. He remembered clearly. ‘My father told me though Europe controlled the 19th century, the US dominated the 20th century, the 21st century will belong to China. China will be powerful in the coming future. ’ Nobert says.

After living in China for three years, Nobert went back to Rwanda and studied in a local high school. He completely changed his perceptions of China. In order to study Chinese culture further and understand China better, Nobert decided to return to China again after graduating from the high school.


Nobert came to China again in 2001 and studied Chinese at Beijing Language Institute. He then studied in Beijing Jiaotong University majored in Computer Science. He served as a volunteer at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation in 2006. This experience gave him a further understanding on the Sino-African cooperation. He told himself that the best time of China-Africa relations started now. ‘I want to be involved into the process of the development which is important. As I have witnessed China's development process, I think my own country will be able to achieve the same as China does.’


By now, Nobert has been in China for 14 years.

Right after his graduation, Nobert set up the Asian-African Trading Company, mainly engaged in exporting agricultural machinery from China to Africa and importing agricultural products from Africa to China. The export business in agricultural machinery is more successful. ‘At that time, many Africans, including Rwandans purchased agricultural machinery from the US and Europe. Taking incubator as an example, after buying a German incubator, no one would know how to operate until they take a six-month training in Germany. But China's incubator sells at a price of approx US$ 5,000, which is only one thirds of German. Furthermore, operation of China's incubator is very simple and can be operated without training.’ Nobert says. For local farmers, China's machinery is cheap and easy to operate, so more and more small and medium sized private companies are fond of purchasing China’s machinery. Nobert verified the strength and potential of China through his own entrepreneurial experience.

With a strong interest in investment area, Nobert joined in a Sino-African investment company. The company had many projects but few of them succeeded. There were many reasons for that, but the biggest issue was a lack of human resources. For example, there was an investment project in Congo (DRC) requiring a Chinese knowing Africa or an African knowing China with fluent English and French required. It was too hard to find such a suitable person, so the project came to nothing eventually.


Realizing this issue, Nobert found his career path which he was able to pursue his goal and take advantages of his strength. In 2012, he set up Kiziga Ltd with his friends, assisting young African students to apply for Chinese universities, obtain internship opportunities and arrange trainings and recommend investment and jobs opportunities in China.




By the end of 2014, the company had trained more than one thousand people, Nobert says, ‘my company conducts training on resume preparation and interview skills to students. We also organize business plan contests and introduce investors. Some of them have taken important positions in overseas Chinese companies, such as Huawei in Dubai, China Road and Bridge Company in Ghana. I think this is of the most significance to China-Africa relations.’


Living in China for many years, Nobert has a profound understanding and expectations for China-Africa relations. He says, ‘Now there are over 30,000 African students studying in China. After their graduation, each of them becomes an advocator for China. Taking myself as an example, there are nearly 100 cousins in my big family. Every time I go back to Rwanda, they are convinced by the information about China I shared with them. These students are the ties between China and Africa. More attention should be paid by creating more opportunities for them to work or invest in China. ’


Nobert provides a set of data, which is among the 30,000 African students, self-financed overseas students accounting for two-thirds of all students and the number is growing by 25 per cent each year. Among these 30,000 students, at least 100 people have promising investment projects. It is of great significance to provide career guidance, trainings and recommend investment projects to these students. It is like building numerous bridges. As times goes by, links of bridges will become strong and unbreakable.


His company has a range of partners including embassies of some African countries in China, more than 200 Chinese universities and some competitive companies. He was very impressed that he had no difficulties in seeking collaborations with Chinese universities when his company was initially established. ‘Until now, I can say that my company has never encountered any difficulties from Chinese institutions. They are all very positive and supportive to my company.’ Nobert says.


In addition to the recognition and support he gained from China, Nobert is pleased to see the increasing influence of Africa brought by the Forum on China Africa Cooperation. ‘Africans have expressed earlier their unwillingness to receive aids but trade. But western countries treat Africa as a young child who is in need of assistance, so they rarely invest in Africa. Different from western countries, China likes to invest in Africa. Forum on China Africa Cooperation holds every three years and investments are growing year by year.  Western countries have gradually changed their perception and started to invest in Africa now.’ Nobert says confidently, ‘I firmly believe that my country will develop vigorously as China.’


Now, Nobert goes back and forth between China and Rwanda several times every year and cares about affairs and situation of China as well as Rwanda and Africa. He says, I went to China when I was a little boy and spent my most precious time in China. I felt excited no matter when I returned to Rwanda or to Beijing. China is my inseparable destiny.