Government gets Rwf10bn to ease cross-border trade

Michel Minega Sebera (R), Permanent Secretary at the ministry of trade and Country Manager, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Patience Mutesi sign the agreement. (Courtesy)

The Ministry of Trade and Industry on Wednesday received $11.2m (approximately Rwf10bn) that will among others fund the construction of cross-border markets in different parts of the country.

The money was announced on Wednesday during the signing of an agreement between the Permanent Secretary at the ministry, Michael Sebera and the Country Manager, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Patience Mutesi.

The funds will partly go towards the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) to support the negotiation and implementation of trade agreements.

The money will also be used for the construction and operationalization of cross border markets in different districts, according to officials from the ministry.

Cross-border markets were introduced to help citizens around border communities to trade easily with neighbouring countries and also to formalise their trade practices.

A number of these have already been built and in March this year, TradeMark East Africa handed to government two of them – one in Rusizi District and another one in Rubavu District.

The latest funding will specifically come from the United Kingdom through the Department for International Development (DfID) and the USAID.

Speaking at the signing, Sebera noted that previous interventions of TradeMark East Africa in the country have had a tremendous impact on the economy, saying they were crucial in the export growth the country has experienced over the years.

He said that export growth has averaged to 10.8 per cent since 2010.

He also noted that TMEA has been key in tackling Non-Tariff Barriers along the transport corridors like the Northern Corridor which links Rwanda to the Mombasa Port in Kenya.

Sebera said that the time within which a container takes to reach the port of Mombasa has reduced by 75 per cent, due to the removal of several bottlenecks that hindered movement.

Sarah Metcalf, the Head of Office at DfID Rwanda said that her government is keen on supporting the country’s journey towards self-reliance, by mainly helping efforts to promote a private sector-led economy.

“This support will help improve the enabling environment for business, reduce barriers to trade and contribute to poverty reduction by enabling more Rwandans to benefit from trade,” she said.

Mutesi expressed her gratitude towards the DfID and USAID for remaining reliable partners in the country’s development, saying that the projects her organization has implemented in Rwanda could not have been possible without their funding.

“We are proud of some of the great impacts of some of the work we have done together for example Rwanda small businesses like Kigali Mushrooms and also helped us gain new markets in the neighbouring state of Kenya,’’ she said shortly after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.