The Government of Rwanda and Trademark East Africa have undertaken a project to set up four cargo and passenger ports at Lake Kivu, a move intended to develop trade, maritime transport and tourism around the lake, government officials have said.
The Rwf22 billion project which will be built in the four districts of Rubavu (Nyamyumba), Rusizi ( Bugiki), Karongi (at the Karongi cross-border market); and Rutsiro (Nkora region).
Speaking to Sunday Times, the Planning Division Manager at Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), Fabrice Barisanga, said the construction will start towards the end of 2018 and will be completed by end of 2019, and be used in 2020.
There will be three major ports with capacity of about 1.5 million passengers per year in 2020, projected to reach 2.8 million by 2036, while a smaller one in Karongi will start with a capacity of about 300,000 passengers per year by 2020 and 400,000 passengers by 2036.
The port maximum cargo handling capacity is 580,000 tonnes, while the minimum is 270,000 tonnes.
He said that there will be more passengers using maritime transport because it will be more affordable than road transport.
Some companies that could benefit from using the facilities include brewer BRALIRWA), cement producer, CIMERWA, tea factories, and coffee companies in Western Province.
Barisanga revealed that they already have about 44% of the required budget, and are looking for support from various partners.
The ports will boost cross-border trade as many people come from the DR Congo to buy products from major markets in Rubavu and Karongi.
The Director General for Trade and Investment at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Robert Opirah, told Sunday Times that the ports will be set up at some parts of Lake Kivu where there are trade centers so as to attract more clients.
He further added that there are some touristic places including waterfalls where hotels can be constructed, or people can travel to.
“There is also consideration of how the navigability of the lake can be effective instead of people using only the terrestrial road from Gisenyi to Rusizi through Nyamasheke and Karongi,” he said.
Chantal Nyirakamana, a resident of Rustiro District, told Sunday Times that the development will help people from Rutsiro get easy access to construction raw materials, which was a challenge as they get them after traveling long distances by road.
She pointed out that it will also bolster touristic activities and help businesspeople get more buyers.
“If selling points are put in place in various areas around Lake Kivu, we can sell our products to many Congolese buyers and tourists travelling to the area,” she added.