Sawmill East Africa Ltd has commenced operations in Rwanda, four months after signing an agreement. with the Government.
The firm is involved in the production of high-quality wood for carpenters and construction companies.
Sawmill East Africa signed an agreement with the Government to harvest to manage four state forests in a deal aimed at adding value to the forestry sector, promote exports and help reduce the country’s import bill on timber.
The firm has rights to manage, exploit and replant four forests in southern part of the country in Rusizi, Muhanga and Huye districts.
The firm has launched its initial operations in Muhanga in the first phase of operations.
Saw Mill East Africa said that they have so far created more than 300 job opportunities.
The firm is also tasked with maintaining environmentally friendly practices in the harvesting process as well as replanting of new forest to maintain forest cover.
Officials say that among their priorities will be to create synergies among stakeholders in the sector to maximise impacts of conservation efforts as well as forestation efforts.
The firm’s Managing Director Agnis Magelinskas said that thay have already established nurseries for new trees with planting set to commence in the New Year.
“We have already started to build nurseries for growing young trees, and are planning to plant millions of new trees at the beginning of the coming year. We believe that planting is very important for the new Rwandan generation to be able to enjoy plentiful and healthy forests, as well for the future wood industry, and we are determined to give our full attention to it,” he said.
He noted that as the first international firm in wood production in Rwanda, they are investing in innovative technologies such as wood drying kiln machines, natural chemicals for preservations among other things.
“We have already launched very powerful modern machines designed and adapted specifically to Rwanda’s industrial needs and this region’s wood type, having invested into the main focal point–speed and quality. In the future, we are planning to continue investments into machinery, people training and modern technologies,” he said.
Rwanda has targets of achieving a forest cover of 30 per cent of the total surface area by 2020.
This means at least 714,102 hectares are expected to be forest reserves before the year 2020 with more than 107 small size forests across the country.
The Government in 2016 estimated that forest cover was around 29 per cent, from 25.9 per cent in 2010.