Govt invests in more cross-border markets to enhance regional trade

Construction of cross-border markets along key borders linking Rwanda with its neighbours will be accomplished in the next five years and, once completed, will enhance regional trade, Francois Kanimba has said.
A beehive of activity at the Rwanda-DR Congo border in Rubavu. (File)
A beehive of activity at the Rwanda-DR Congo border in Rubavu. (File)

Construction of cross-border markets along key borders linking Rwanda with its neighbours will be accomplished in the next five years and, once completed, will enhance regional trade, Francois Kanimba has said.

The Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, who was on Monday speaking to The New Times about the seventh East African Community (EAC) Week, said the markets infrastructure has been an important programme the ministry has been undertaking.

“It has been one of the most challenging infrastructure programmes. Constructing these markets is resource-consuming and requires significant amount of time and energy to conduct feasibility studies to make sure that when you mobilise resources to construct markets, they are designed in such a way to have an impact,” Kanimba said.

The minister said the Government has an ongoing comprehensive programme covering the whole country.

“There are other small markets for which we continue to mobilise resources to make sure all are completed in the next five years,” he said, listing several ongoing big and small projects.

When members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) visited Gatuna border post on the Rwanda-Uganda border, earlier this month, members of Gatuna Cross Border Trade Cooperative appealed for their advocacy in the establishment of a modern market.

This, the traders insisted, would allow them to reap more from regional integration.

“For the cross-border market in Gatuna, we have done the feasibility study, but it has to be reviewed because it was not properly conducted. We are working with TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) to see if their second phase strategy can take it into account,” Kanimba said. 

“And we hope they will because it’s one of the main cross border infrastructures really urgently needed.”

TMEA commits

TMEA country director Patience Mutesi said they are currently working with the ministry – their implementing partner – to fund construction of Rubavu and Rusizi cross-border markets.

Rubavu, she noted, has been “contracted and we are expecting construction to start this month.”

“Discussions are ongoing for Rusizi. But TMEA Rwanda is committed to support the construction of the two markets,” Mutesi said, noting that $5 million (about Rwf4 billion) will be injected into the two projects.

Construction of Karongi cross-border market, which was launched in April, is ongoing. It was expected to be completed within a year at a cost of Rwf1.58 billion.

Once complete, it is expected to boost trade between Rwanda and DR Congo.

On Tuesday, Kanimba said a completed market is at Akanyaru, on the border with Burundi.

“This was a good example because this cross border market was 100 per cent constructed by the district in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the local development agency,” Kanimba said.

Others under construction include one in Cyanika, on the border with Uganda, where work is done is at 60 per cent. The Cyanika border post works is funded by a development partner based in Geneva, Switzerland, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

The EIF is a multi-donor programme that helps least-developed countries play a more active role in the global trading system.

Kanimba said EIF is also funding construction of the market at Karongi.

Funding is also expected from the World Bank to construct cross border markets at Rusizi II and Nyamasheke.

For the projects at Kagitumba and Rusumo, the minister said, support will come from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“We got approval to construct these markets by the African Development Bank, which is going to fund the rehabilitation of the road from Kagitumba, Kayonza to Rusumo. And they accepted to include the construction of the two cross-border markets in the project,” he said.

Other projects

The ministry is eyeing similar projects at the Nemba and Ruhwa border linking Rwanda and Burundi.

According to the ministry, records currently indicates that the five border posts through which the highest percentage of goods in transit are: Gatuna (30.6 per cent of total flow of goods), Rusumo (16.6 per cent), Kagitumba (15.2 per cent), Kigali International Airport (15 percent) and Cyanika (3.7 per cent).

Rwanda’s informal imports are mainly from Uganda, followed by Burundi, DR Congo and Tanzania, respectively.

However, insecurity in Burundi has led to a reduction in Rwanda’s exports to Burundi in the recent years.

Exports to Uganda reduced by 51.2 percent from $4.1 million in quarter four of 2014 to $2 million in quarter four of 2015.

Rwanda imported 6.4 per cent less, from $61.3 million to $57.4 million in the same time period.

Hides and skins are the main exports to Uganda, worth Rwf2.9 billion followed by beans at Rwf1.6 billion.

Imports from Uganda, in the same period, were dominated by Portland cement worth Rwf53.4 billion followed by vegetable fats and oils at Rwf32.2 billion.

Exports to Tanzania also reduced by 66.7 per cent from $1.5 million in quarter four of 2014, to $0.5 million in quarter four of 2015. Imports increased in the same time by 24.6 per cent from $18.7 million to $23.3 million.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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