EDITORIAL: RwandAir’s new route to Kinshasa opens up more opportunities for businesses

RwandAir yesterday further expanded its ever-growing network, adding Kinshasa as its 27th destination amid fanfare.

The scene of the customary water salute that greeted the national carrier’s Boeing 737-800NG airliner’s arrival at Kinshasa’s N’Djili International Airport was a significant moment highlighting the possibilities that come with good neighbourliness, and open borders and skies.

RwandAir’s arrival in Kinshasa was the result of the commitment and political will from the leaders of the two countries, which was on show when DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi visited Rwanda in March barely two months after his inauguration.

The new route presents immense opportunities to the businesses communities from both sides considering that the two neighbours have historically enjoyed strong trade ties – especially informal – with the Rubavu/Goma border one of the busiest border crossings globally, with daily traffic of some 90,000 people.

Indeed figures from the National Bank of Rwanda show that DR Congo is the leading destination of Rwanda’s informal exports, accounting for 86.9 per cent of total informal cross-border exports in 2018.

RwandAir has started with three direct flights from Kigali to Kinshasa, with a plan of doubling them as soon as next month.

That informal trade has long thrived along the Rwanda-DR Congo border even before the two countries concretised formal trade arrangements – and long before RwandAir considered entering the market – goes to point to the great potential DR Congo – a market of over 80 million people – presents to Rwandans.

Local businesses, spearheaded by the Private Sector Federation, need to give DR Congo’s market the attention it deserves by making the most of several existing opportunities, including the 24-hr one-stop border operations and RwandAir’s flights.

In particular, there is need to increase volumes and add value and observe minimum standards across the value chain for all exports.

Most importantly, Congolese and Rwandans should make use of the growing ties between the two countries to establish stronger people-to-people relations and truly drive bilateral trade and other facets of cooperation between their countries.

To the two governments, citizens on either side of the border will continue to count on your goodwill and commitment to further ease travel and improve business environment to foster solidarity, trade and social connections between the two peoples.