The scope of the ongoing Made-in-Rwanda trade show at Gikondo expo grounds makes it arguably one of the most important end of year events in the country.
The variety of products at the show include arts and crafts, textile, foods, construction materials, among other unique products.
With most Rwandans are still bent on importing products from abroad, some of which are even fabricated in the country, the Made-in-Rwanda trade fair has been designed to change that mindset, according to Private Sector Federation (PSF).
Suitcases, artificial hair, cholesterol-free oil, houses constructed from agricultural straw material are some of the other unique products which are being showcased.
Unique suitcases fabricated for the first time in Rwanda at Masoro industrial zone by a Chinese farm called XIE U limited are being sold at the trade show.
“It has been a month since we started operating in Rwanda, and it seems Rwandans love our products. For now, our suitcases are available in T2000 supermarket, and we are planning to expand our market nationwide,” said Jean Pierre Rukundo, working with XIE Ltd.
He said the company fabricates 100 suitcases a day, but as the market expands, they target to fabricate at least 500 a day.
“65 percent of material we use is plastic and the rest is metal. We use ABS materials. They are so durable and strong,” he said.
Prices for the locally made suitcases range between Rwf15 000 the smallest, to Rwf25 000.
“They are very cheap compared to the imported ones. Rwandans should buy our products firstly because they are good and it’s a way of contributing to the development of our country,” he said.
For now, 16 Rwandans are employed by XIE limited and when we expand, the number of workers will increase too, he said.
This oil is are sold everywhere in the big and small markets but not from the sunflower harvested and grown on Rwandan soil, most of it is imported from outside the country.
But now sunflower oil with Made-in-Rwanda brand can be found at the ongoing exhibition, as well as on local market.
Patrick Duhirimana, Managing Director of the AMES factory located in Base sector in Rulindo, said their oil “is more refined the imported one.”
“It’s the best oil; it’s natural without any chemical product. We only use sunseeds. Diabetics, or people suffering from high blood pressure, heart diseases or other illness are free to use it, it’s safe,” he said.
He said the factory has the potential to satisfy Rwandan market.
The factory started its operations last year. It can produce 400 litres a day, and as the consumers increase, it should be able to produce 1000 litres a day,” Duhirimana said.
He said raw materials are still a challenge but they have started working with farmers to help them to boost sunseed production to feed the factory.
Uburyohe oil price range between Rwf700 for 300 milliliters to 9000 for 5 litres, he said.
Artificial women’s hair is normally imported from Abuja in Nigeria, China and from other parts of the world.
But now, Chantal Byukusenge from Gatsibo District, makes artificial hair from sisal.
“Many women shun artificial hair because of concerns about the source of raw materials used to make it. We started using sisal for Agaseke and later I thought it could be even better for artificial hair,” she said.
She invented a manually operated machine which treats fiber from plants, softens it, then she dyes them with the same colors used for clothes.
She is still alone and does it manually, but her plan is to expand her activities to produce more artificial hair as the market grows.
Today, she makes 15 pieces of artificial hair, but she has capacity to make 80 pieces a day.
“With at least Rwf4 million I can buy a machine from Kenya which can help me increase my daily production capacity, and engage more workers,” she said.
Bricks, stones, cement and woods, are the common construction materials on the Rwandan market.
Today, a company called STRAWTECH based at the Kigali Special Economic Zone and featuring in the Made-in-Rwanda expo, broke the routine bringing in new construction materials made from compressed agricultural straws.
A house of 2 bedrooms, a living room, dining room, a modern kitchen and a washroom constructed from those materials, worth Rwf11.6m, is being exhibited at the expo.
Christine Shyaka, who works for Strawtech Rwanda, said the house can be moved when the owner relocates to another place.
“Internally, our house is made of metals and no one can break them to enter into the house to steal. The metals are linked with screws, and it’s done by a machine, the only way to open them when someone wants to dissemble the house, is using the same machine,” she said.
The house can be dissembled and erected in another place, and only the external part needs to be retouched, she said.
The Made-in-Rwanda trade exhibition opened on November 29 and will be closed on December 5, 2017.