Lake Kivu is getting four new ports, ferries to boost Rwanda-DR Congo trade

Construction at the Rusizi and Rubavu ports started early this year, with Rutsiro and Karongi works scheduled to start January 2021.

Construction of ports on Lake Kivu has kicked off in the districts of Rubavu, Rusizi, Rutsiro and Karongi to facilitate the transport of goods and people on Lake Kivu.

The lake is also shared with DR Congo, one of Rwanda’s main trading partners.


A budget of $28 million (approximately Rwf26bn) was set aside by the government in partnership with development partners.


Construction at the Rusizi and Rubavu ports started early this year with Rutsiro and Karongi works scheduled to start January 2021.


A ferry with a capacity to carry three tonnes and 30 passengers between the ports is scheduled to begin operations by the end of the year.

A bigger ferry has also been commissioned and is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. The bigger ferry will have the capacity to carry 150 passengers and 10 tonnes of cargo.

This will be welcome news for DR Congo-Rwanda traders as the new water transportation will enhance doing business between the two countries.

In an interview with The New Times, Emile Baganizi, the Deputy Director-General of Rwanda Transport Development Agency, said that the goal of the investment and constructing the ports is to cut cost and time required to transport goods between Rwanda and DR Congo.

Baganizi explained that passenger transport on the lake is still low because of limited infrastructures such as modern ferries and port facilities on the lake.

Transportation issues were echoed by Asad (surname withheld on request), a garment trader who operates in Rubavu and Goma, DR Congo. He normally uses trucks to transport goods which take more time and has hindrances.

“I hope the port will facilitate transportation and therefore cut costs and align taxes. There are certainly transportation issues that will be solved after the ports are ready,” he said.

More services and projects underway

In addition to the ferries and ports, there will also be immigration and customs stations set up to ease travel for traders and their goods.

Patience Umutesi, Country Director of TMEA, one of the project funders, said in a phone interview that the project is the biggest endeavor to improve maritime transportation and the results will guide their interventions in water transport.

“At TradeMark East Africa, we usually work to improve transportation and trade in the region in road transportation. This will work as a pilot project to see if we can invest in more projects involving water transportation,” she said.

The project, that is set to be completed in 2022, is also funded by the and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

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