L’Usine Textile du Rwanda (Utexrwa), the only textile industry and one of Rwanda’s oldest industries went through forward and backward integrations till end of 1992.
And in 1993, it was fully operational but later collapsed after 1994 turmoil.
Utexrwa lost its trained workers and its properties were looted or destroyed.
The raw materials warehouses were also burnt with a stock of six months production. But after a while, the company restarted its operations with a long schedule of cleaning and restoring activities till early 1995. It almost collapsed since the costs of production doubled.
Amidst all those strains, the company was rehabilitated and is now under full operation with expectations to spur Rwanda’s economic development to greater heights. Raj Rajendran, the company’s Managing Director, says that with the application of innovation and technology can yield more good for the company and Rwanda’s economy in that there is a great reduction of the production cost hence increase in profits.
He explained that if the company can acquire the required money to fund their strategies under good management, it is obvious that Rwanda’s industrial sector will grow.
He says that the company has production strategies that include diversification in products all intended to gain the lost pride and also meet foreign markets needs which would earn the economy sounding revenue.
The managing director explained they are investing in silk.
The expected silk production alone requires an estimated investment of $5 millions which will deliver export sales turnover of about $15-20 millions per annum in 4-5 years from now.
He said this is expected to generate about 7,000 jobs in the silk farms in rural areas with the exception of 500 additional jobs at the production plant which could strengthen the Economic Poverty Reduction and Development Strategy (EPRDS).
To produce 6 million nets
A survey also indicates that the sub Saharan nations have the highest demand for Insecticide Treated Nets, the company expects that part of it production strategy is to diversify and produce insecticides treated mosquito nets (ITNs).
It is expected that about 150 million nets per year can be produced to serve the existing market. And that this will be produced alongside other technical textiles in the range of protective clothing and medical textiles with addition of some certain machinery and produce.
With this expected production diversity, the Managing Director said that with at least an investment of $6 million, they can produce a capacity of six millions nets per year, which can yield export revenues worth $30 millions annually. And this expects to generate about 800-1000 jobs at production level.
The company further expects that production diversification can improve production and sales with a market target of the Common Markets of East and Southern African (COMESA) region and US under African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).
This Act was enacted to offer African countries tangible incentives to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
In its efforts to better innovational skills of the workers, the company has started training programmes in sericulture and silk production.
These involve silkworm rearing, silk reeling and silk hand looming.
In relation to the training, the company is working out an apprentice scheme with the ministry for Science, Technology and Research in the president’s office to train ETO Gitarama technical school students, KIST, NUR and KIE. Rajendran also said that the company wants to create a social capital by investing in the local people through building a township of over 1,000 houses for its present and future employees.
And with environmental protection as a company’s responsibility, Utexrwa has planted over 60,000 trees in the last five months in the country and are resolved to get certified as an ethical and green company.
Rajendran, Utexrwa’s managing director, urged government to encourage and help domestic industries to expand as they invest in the country for economic prosperity.
He explains that this is much easier than attracting new investors because it could be faster, easier and useful to the existing investor.