New equipment makes Rwanda regional hub for testing food samples –officials


Officials get a demonstration of the testing equipment by Antoine Mukunzi, RSB’s division manager of national quality testing laboratory services. (Rhiannon Snide)

A new laboratory equipment donated to the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) now positions Rwanda as a regional hub for testing samples from countries in the region, an official said yesterday.

During the official hand-over ceremony, yesterday, Raymond Murenzi, acting director-general of RSB, told guests that the event epitomises the importance of USAID’s contribution to Rwanda’s efforts to enhance the trade environment.

It will help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of product testing in order to reduce the testing costs and, ultimately, improve export competitiveness across the region, he said.

Murenzi added: “This high tech and powerful piece of equipment will not only allow Rwanda to test and certify its own export products, but will also position Rwanda as a regional hub for testing samples in a number of areas, including food, cosmetics and waste water.”

He noted that USAID, through TMEA, authorised the purchase of Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) testing equipment that is used to assess the purity of Rwanda’s export products.

The equipment is crucial in ensuring that goods produced in Rwanda meet quality standards required by advanced markets in Europe, Americas and elsewhere.

USAID mission director, Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe, said two years ago, the U.S. government, through USAID, partnered with TMEA to support the Government of Rwanda’s efforts to increase intra-regional and international trade and reduce the time and costs of trade. 

“Through this partnership, USAID invested $5.7 million to: improve market access and reduce cost of trade and transport; enhance the trade environment; and improve the competitiveness of Rwandan products and firms.”

“This spectrometer will contribute to reducing testing time for Mercury and Arsenic by 88 per cent from 60 days to seven days. The testing cost will also go down by 50 per cent per test. This is a significant achievement that USAID is proud to be part of.” 

According to TMEA country director, Patience Mutesi, the fact that this testing equipment is the first of its kind in EAC is a testament of Rwanda’s emergence as “a centre of innovation in the region.”

“With this investment, Rwandan SMEs will be able to access both regional and international markets and it will contribute towards the EDPRS II target to increase Rwanda’s exports by 28 per cent annually,” Mutesi said shortly before the officials were given a demonstration of the testing equipment at RSB premises in Kicukiro.