Construction of a modern cross-border market facilities worth $2.2 million commenced in Rusizi at the Rwanda-DR Congo border, with a ground breaking ceremony yesterday.
Francois Kanimba, the Minister for Trade, Industry and East African Community Affairs, presided over the event.
The market is expected to benefit thousands of Rwandans who engage in cross-border trade with DR Congo informally, and who already make a significant contribution to Rwanda’s economy with an estimated trade value of $85 million in 2015.
More than one third of the total informal cross-border trade in Rwanda goes through Rusizi. Trade through Rusizi grew by 48 per cent between 2013 and 2014.
This investment is expected to bring further economic gains for both traders and the Government of Rwanda.
Addressing the crowd at the border, Minister Kanimba noted that cross-border trade with DR Congo amounts to $100 million annually with approximately $30 million going through Rusizi.
“Cross-border trade plays an important role in poverty reduction as it provides trading opportunities for many of poorest people of our society. MINEACOM (the trade ministry) remains focused in utilising every opportunity to keep supporting informal cross- border traders, in particular women, through creating conducive working, environment such as cross-border markets and continue to build their capacity to trade,” he said.
The double storey market complex will comprise of stalls and lock-ups which are divided according to the different merchandise, in addition to storage facilities, washrooms, coldrooms, and a crèche, according to a statement.
Access roads, paved pedestrian areas, parking yards for vehicles and bicycles and paving will also be constructed to enhance access to the cross -border market, officials said.
The project is funded by TradeMark East Africa with support from the United Kingdom through the Department of International Development.
The DFID Rwanda Head of Office, Sally Waples, said: “The UK is proud to support the transformation of Rwanda’s economy to attract investment, create jobs, and improve ordinary Rwandans’ lives. We are truly excited about the Rusizi Cross Border Market and its role in facilitating trade, ultimately helping to transition Rwanda away from aid and bring people out of poverty.”
The storage and warehousing facilities will ensure that informal traders can purchase and store larger volumes of goods, lowering transportation costs by reducingthe number of trips traders need to make to the market.
It is estimated that within its first year of operations, the new market will generate an additional 25 per cent of informal exports, equivalent to $4.62 million.
The market will also act as a catalyst for information sharing between producers and buyers in addition to improving security for women traders who make up between 75 and 80% of the informal cross-border traders in Rusizi.
TradeMark East Africa Country Director Patience Mutesi said, the facility is critical to economic development of thousands of informal cross border traders, their families and communities.
“This is because over one third of Rwanda’s informal cross-border-trade is conducted here and creating better market conditions will increase incomes, directly touching the wellbeing of thousands of families,” she said.
The Rusizi cross-border market is one of the projects implemented by MINEACOM under the cross border programme and which aims to strengthen cross-border trade between Rwanda and its neighbours.