Local producers urged to promote Made-in-Rwanda at EAC summit


Women sew clothes at a local garments factory. (File photo)

Local manufacturers have been urged to take advantage of the forthcoming East African Manufacturing and Business Forum to market locally produced products.

Claudine Mukeshimana, the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers executive director, said the trade summit is an opportunity for local producers to market and sell their products.

“We will also use the platform to forge partnerships with our counterparts in the region. It is also an opportunity for us to strengthen our presence and claim our market share in the region,” Mukeshimana said adding that the association is currently working with its members to ensure they market Made-in- Rwanda products across the region.

The 2nd edition of the summit will be held in Kigali during the first week of May 2017 under the theme “Harnessing the Manufacturing Potential for Sustainable Economic Growth.

The trade and exhibition summit offers a platform where investors, enterprises, researchers and academia can collectively showcase new products and services as well as latest innovations in manufacturing, particularly those with relevance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

It is expected to bring together more than 500 top industrialists, policy makers and experts to discuss strategies to expedite regional industrialisation.

The high-level conference is co-hosted by the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers (RAM) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs. It is also supported by all national Manufacturers Associations from the EAC partner states.

Formal trade with EAC countries

Rwanda’s exports to other EAC member countries represented 26.3 per cent of the total formal exports in 2016, up from 21.5 per cent back in 2015.

This represents an increase of almost 31.1 per cent in value, from $120.1 million in 2015 to $157.5 million in 2016.

The rise was due to the increase in re-exports of petroleum products.

The country earned more than $224 million (about37.5 per cent of total exports) from re-exports in 2016 compared to $177 million earned in 2015.

Equally, imports from EAC countries, which represent 23.5 per cent of total formal imports, increased by 1.6 per cent, from $519.36 million recorded in 2015 to $527.56 million recorded in 2016.

In an earlier interview, Gerard Mukubu, the chief advocacy officer, Rwanda Private sector Federation, said that the summit will serve as a platform not only for initial business contacts, but also for exchange of ideas on how to promote the manufacturing sector in the region.

“The meeting will lay strategies on how to improve the competitiveness and capabilities of domestic firms and promoting industrial development,” he added.

The summit will also address existing gaps in policy and business environment by providing a platform for dialogue among manufacturers, suppliers, technology providers and policy makers.