Rwanda is keen to strengthen its presence in the South African market in a bid to boost her agricultural exports.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), Hannington Namara, said that South Africa, which has a population of some 50.6 million people, provides a good market for organic products from Rwanda.
Namara made the remarks during a meeting between South African investors and Rwandan business community in Kigali last week.
He said that PSF-the umbrella arm of the private sector in Rwanda- seeks to facilitate local traders with information and assistance about the South African market through improved trade relations between the two countries.
“The first advantage of these relations is (to) create trade information and help our business people have a better way to do business in South Africa,” he noted.
Rwanda is keen boost her exports through increased value of products and services as well as market diversification to offset the trade deficit.
“Whether we can realise our products to a certain standard in form of quality and packaging to suit their requirement is a challenge we have to take on as Rwandans.”
Meanwhile Rwanda’s imports from South Africa reached 73.6 billion Rands in August this year, mainly driven by increased shipments of machinery, foodstuffs, equipment, chemicals, petroleum products and scientific instruments.
Namara is optimistic that with South Africa’s expertise and technological advancement, the country will be able to further push its service sector to offset costs incurred by the private sector.
“The South African experience provides a good example for the Rwandan service sector to learn from, and what is important is that what we are going to benefit from is generally the expertise,” he added.
“It is not worthy for us to sit back in the services sector and say we can bring out our own yet we can borrow from somewhere.”
South Africa’s High Commissioner to Rwanda, George N. Twala, said that trade relations will open up investment opportunities between the two countries.
“At government level, we have done our job; the challenge is for both our people to take the struggle forward,” he pointed out.
Twala said that the two governments will ensure that all barriers to trade are removed, calling on the private sector to identify barriers that would hamper trade.
“As government, we will ensure that we have removed all the obstacles, so it is private sector to tell us that this is an obstacle and remove it,” Twala noted.
“For us to thrive as people, its imperative that we should remove all perceptions that are seen to hamper trade”.
A local trader based in South Africa, Albert Gatare says that Rwanda offers a good business environment for the local business community.