The Covid-19 pandemic and limited space have previously led to soaring air cargo rates on major routes. However, as capacity improves and demand experiences a slight uptick, exporters are expressing concerns about the unchanged rates. The biggest cost we've faced in the past was the time spent waiting for space to export our products, said Solange Uwingabiye Murekezi, Managing Director at Aux Delices Honey. But now, space is available, and we are ready to export. ALSO READ: RwandAir, Qatar Airways launch African cargo hub While exporters encounter various challenges in their export journey, they find the current charges per kilo to be relatively high, according to Murekezi. She further noted that the depreciation of the Rwandan franc against currencies like the dollar exacerbates the concern. For Saadah Gakuru, Founder and Chief Executive of S&I Avocados, the rates have neither increased nor decreased since Rwanda acquired its first cargo plane in November 2022. This has dashed hopes of significantly boosting exports, as initially anticipated. ALSO READ: First RwandAir cargo plane arrives As an exporter of avocados, the challenge used to be space. Unlike before, we can now export 10 tons of avocados. Previously, we had to split shipments if a client required 12 tons, resulting in delayed delivery and increased costs, explained Gakuru. Despite the availability of space, Gakuru remains optimistic that the government will lower the cost, which currently stands at $1.8 per kilo, up from $1.2 before the Covid-19 pandemic. She operates farms in four districts, including Kamonyi, Ngororero, Gatsibo, and Bugesera. ALSO READ: Why Qatar Airways is investing in RwandAir Robert Rukundo, Founder and CEO of Almond Green Farm Ltd, a local horticulture export company, acknowledges that air transportation has always been slightly more expensive compared to other means. Although rates dropped slightly to $1.8, which is comparable to regional rates, it still presents a challenge, he said. Rukundo also serves as the CEO of the Horticulture Exporters Association of Rwanda (HEAR) and emphasized that the expanded network of routes has opened up new markets for exporters. The increase in cargo operations has provided opportunities, with four weekly flights to London, two to Belgium, and at least three to Dubai. Yvonne Manzi Makolo, Chief Executive of RwandAir, highlighted the growing importance of cargo for the aviation industry in a previous interview. She emphasized the significance of robust cargo connections for a landlocked country like Rwanda, aiming to ensure seamless connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world to drive economic growth and valuable trade deals. ALSO READ: RwandAir, Qatar Airways sign codeshare agreement The recently launched cargo hub in Kigali, in partnership with Qatar, is expected to contribute to a three to five percent annual economic growth for the continent over the next decade.