A new regional industrial policy that will harmonise activities and legal regime, as well as address challenges affecting the manufacturing sector, is in the offing.
Nathan Gashayija, the director for regional integration programmes, said the policy also seeks to diversify the regional industrial base to boost processing from 8.62 per cent to about 40 per cent by 2032.
Once adopted by the East African Community member states, the policy will also assist in strengthening institutional capacity of the manufacturing sector in the region, he added.
“It will address issues of research, innovation, quality and sustainable industrial development, among others,” Gashayija said. He added that the new policy will address equitable industrial development and gender equity in the region.
It also looks to grow intra-regional industrial exports to about 25 per cent by 2032 from 5 per cent by supporting micro, small-and-medium enterprises to expand into sustainable businesses.
“We are looking at ways in which member countries can specialise in what they can do best to maximise each country’s potential. This, we believe, will make the sector more innovative and competitive in the region and on the international scene,” Chantal Umuraza, the Chamber of Industries executive director general, explained.
Umuraza noted that the policy will also look at how the region can harmonise taxes on raw materials, an issue that has dogged the region for a long time, hurting industrial growth in the trade bloc.
“The new policy will ensure uniform mechanisms as far as marketing of individual country’s products in the region is concerned,” Umuraza added.
Robert Bayigamba, the chairman of the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers, had in an earlier interview noted that the policy will make it possible to control and enhance product quality and branding across the region.
He challenged local investors to rethink their strategies and take advantage of the huge opportunities presented by the East African Community (EAC) market.
EAC population is over 180 million people, presenting a huge market. “Our challenge now is to work hard and supply it with competitive products,” he said.
Official figures suggest that the share of Rwanda’s industrial sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated at 15 per cent, less than half the size of the service and agricultural sectors.
Currently, the contribution of the industrial sector in EAC is about 19.2 per cent GDP, of which, only 8.9 per cent is generated from manufacturing.