Exporters will get extra facilitation to improve the quality and volumes of their products, under a new programme initiated by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The two-year Export Development Programme (EDP), launched yesterday, will be managed by RDB in partnership with Trademark East Africa (MEA).
The program has three components; capacity programs to help manufacturers build credible audits, a six months advisor initiative and market linkages.
“We will facilitate about 30 companies in carrying out credible audits that will help them qualify for export actions. Important as well, we are coaching 18 candidates, who will be certified to provide advisory services to Rwandan companies,” Valentine Rugwabiza, CEO of RDB said.
“Finally, 15 to 20 companies will benefit from a highly focused market research, through which they will conduct sales missions to selected markets in the East African Community.”
According to Mark Priestley, the TMEA Country Director for Rwanda, the country’s exports sector is still constrained by companies that have failed to make an impact on external markets, despite several initiatives by the government and its partners.
“Rwanda faces a trade deficit where it imports approximately four times more than it exports. One way to visualize this is that, tracks that bring in goods go back three quarters empty. So getting exports up is extremely important and the government understands this,” Priestley said.
“We support this project because it is fully focused on the private sector. Many Rwanda companies are not as export ready as they should be; so this project aims to support them to become more export ready and have a sustainable mark on external markets.”
RDB says that some of the constraints hindering exporters from establishing external markets include lack of qualification, low productivity and ignorance about export business among others.
But some exporters say that non tariff barriers and high transport costs due to Rwanda’s landlocked position, remain key challenges.
“Some of us are succeeding in export but there are several cross cutting challenges. For example, when you are taking goods to Bujumbura or Kampala, the goods are priced differently because of the currency variations. So sometimes you find that you are not making profits. Crossing the border and the currency variations are challenges especially to small exporters. Jessie Kalisa Umutoni, managing director GMAT Ltd, a chalk manufacturing company, said.
The government seeks to grow exports by 28 per cent by 2017, from 19 percent achieved last year.
According to the five-year National Export Strategy of 2011, the priority exports are tea, coffee, tourism, mining and horticulture.