EDITORIAL: National Business Forum should mark the beginning of sustained dialogue

The Private Sector Federation Tuesday, December 3, hosts the inaugural National Business Forum, with a focus on the Made-in-Rwanda Initiative.

The forum, to be held under the theme, ‘Building Strong Partnerships for Sustainable Made-in-Rwanda’, comes after it emerged that MIR policy was starting to have impact – despite being just about three years old – after all.

A recent assessment suggested that the policy was partly responsible for a 36 per cent drop in the country’s trade deficit between 2015 and 2017, with imports decreasing by 4 per cent, from $1.849 billion in 2015 to $1.772 billion in 2017.

It’s probably too early to measure the full impact of Made-in-Rwanda policy but there is a growing sense that the local industry was starting to find its footing thanks in large part to a raft of progressive measures the Government has taken in recent years to grow the manufacturing sector.

Measures like tax incentives and preferential treatment for local firms in public procurement will no doubt go a long way in transforming the local industry.

Yet there are still a myriad of challenges that continue to undermine the Made-in-Rwanda Initiative.

As such, today’s business forum is an important platform for stakeholders, including government, industry captains, lenders, exporters, and other players across the value chain, to take stock of the progress hitherto made, and genuinely discuss remaining  barriers and devise best ways to overcome them – together.  

From prevailing skills gaps, questionable quality and financial constraints, to negative mindset toward local products and competitiveness of locally produced goods and services on regional and international markets, participants will be expected to scrutinise each of these challenges and draw up recommendations on the way forward.

Dialogue is key in every endeavour. And it is our hope that the National Business Forum will become a regular platform for consistent, honest and holistic discussions on issues that affect the local industry with view to taking it to the next level.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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