FEATURED: NIRDA’s interest-free loans for wood processors to boost productivity

Employees inside the workshop where wood is processed. NIRDA has launched OPen Calls programme to support firms in the value chain. / File

The National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) on Thursday launched Open Calls Programme to support firms in the wood processing value chain to acquire better equipment.

The programme is part of a bigger initiative to support firms and industries in different value chains. Wood processing is expected to boost competition and drive the consumption of locally made products, according to NIRDA officials.

It also has the potential to bolster the country’s export earnings from wood.

The support ranges from upgraded equipment, cost-free technical advice to support business growth through improved production processes as well as management.

Besides, NIRDA will train selected firms on the best technology, quality production processes, and business and marketing strategies.

Selected firms will be supported to acquire, adapt and make better use of technologies such as equipment, tools, machines, software as a repayable facility at 0% interest rate, no fees, and collateral. Open Calls programme is expected to boost both productivity and competitiveness, according to NIRDA.

“Open Calls Programme for wood processing value chain aims at bringing firms’ businesses to the next level by supporting them to address technological and technical barriers to their growth and competitiveness,” said Kampeta Sayinzoga, NIRDA Director-General.

Kampeta Sayinzoga, NIRDA Director-General speaking during the launch of Open Calls Value chain in wood processing to improve competitiveness and productivity. / Courtesy 

Kampeta added that the Open Calls was long overdue as wood processors are challenged by the lack of modern equipment and technologies, challenges she said NIRDA was ready to address.

A total of Rwf300 millions has been set aside by NIRDA to finance firms that will meet the requirements.

Firms upbeat

The meeting brought together different stakeholders especially those involved directly or indirectly in wood processing as well as district officials and other stakeholders.

Hajji Abdul Karemera, the Chairman of Rwanda Value Chain Association, welcomed NIRDA’s efforts to support wood processors.

“It is not everywhere that one gets a loan at zero interest rate and is not required to give collateral, this is good news and we are ready to compete for the support,” he said.

Wood and paper products, as well as furniture, are some of the greatest contributors to Rwanda’s manufacturing sector.

According to the National Institute for Statistics (NISR), wood and paper printing contributed 4 per cent to the manufacturing sector in 2018 while Furniture contributed 6 per cent.

The technology audit survey carried out by NIRDA earlier this year revealed that 54 per cent of wood processing equipment was semi-automated while 45 per cent were manually operated with only 1 per cent fully automated.

Wood processing is also considered to be one of the drivers for made in Rwanda programme and contribute to the exports growth by 17 per cent annually as outlined in the Seven Year Government Programme (7YGP).

NIRDA officials explaining how the OPen Calls Program will benefit firms in wood processing value chain.

Also, the 7-year Government Program (2017-2024) aims to establish Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy, which will, in turn, create 214,000 decent and productive jobs annually.

Rwanda’s Vision 2050, Pillar 3 which is “The Economic Transformation Pillar” aims to accelerate private-sector-led economic growth and increased productivity.

Eligible firms are established ones which have been in business for four years and above and interested applicants will effective today start filing their applications via NIRDA website before 30 November.

NIRDA says its staff are ready to support anyone with questions or seeking clarification via its Toll-Free 1055

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