Rwanda seeks to improve the quality of its exports as it targets the British market in a bid to increase foreign exchange revenues needed to bridge the country’s trade deficit.
The country’s exports are significantly superseded by imports, an outlook that demands an increase in exports to bridge the deficit. The country recorded US$165million in export revenues in the first five months of this year while imports rose to US$690.5 million.
“Critical to successful exports into Europe and UK is quality, not just the first batch or the second batch but every batch,” said Stephen Crabb, UK Member of Parliament for Preseli Pembrokeshire in the House of Commons during the wind up of a two week business training course for young entrepreneurs.
He added; “But also, secondly, guaranteeing the supply chain, it’s not good to make one order and not fulfill the second order. When the customer is pleased; he wants the second order you have to guarantee you can provide for.”
The UK Parliamentarians and business community were in the country to train young entrepreneurs and handicraft artisans in businesses development and access to credit among others.
Crabb says that the country’s handicraft exports have a major stake in the UK market which projects a great future for the country’s exports, urging that efforts should be put to promote young entrepreneurs.
“We believe that if the economy is going to develop the way we hope it would do by achieving more success, then a great number of young people need to be trained with real business skills to make their ideas a reality.
“There is no doubt that some young entrepreneurs who have graduated from this training have already started businesses positioned to export products in the international market,” Crabb added.
With improved domestic economic activity and business environment which is seen to attract more investments, the country is expected to race ahead of its counterparts on the continent.
“There is no question that Rwanda is seen as a leader in the continent in terms of growth, especially in the East African region.” Crabb noted
Central bank projects the country’s growth at 7.7 per cent this year with the global growth, according to IMF is projected to grow at 3.5 per cent in 2012.
Nevertheless, there are so many hurdles hindering the country’s growth such as high transport costs, low skills and packaging and access to credit especially to small and medium enterprises-SMEs.
“Access to finance has been and remains a big challenge for young entrepreneurs who are looking for finance to implement their ideas,” the minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, said.
The Minister pointed out that in an effort to address these challenges, the government started a project to help young entrepreneurs to access finance through Hanga Umurimo (start your own business) project, which has financed over 300 projects since last year.
The President of Junior Chamber international- Rwanda Chapter, Albert Nzamukwereka, said that by supporting SME growth through training young entrepreneurs would address the challenge of lack of enough export products.
But Crabb believes that despite challenges, the country still has options to select in order to foster growth and attract investors in those areas.
“But much of the focus shouldn’t be on manufacturing; it should also be on services and that is where we see interesting things happening,” Crabb said.
The Government is currently looking at developing the services sector especially the railway and air transport to reduce transport costs.