KIGALI - With the aim of capturing the lucrative horticulture markets of the Middle East, exporters in the country are working steadfastly to find a cargo plane that can transport agricultural products to the Persian Gulf with the United Arab Emirate, Dubai as the first target.
According to Rwanda Horticulture Development Authority (RHODA), negotiations with various international carriers for reasonable bargains are on.
The carriers approached include Egypt Air and the Emirates Airline.
“We are trying to get one (cargo plane), we are encouraging transporters to fly over to Kigali and export Rwandan produce but we are not purchasing one ourselves,” Peter Muvara, the RHODA chief told The New Times, over the phone.
“We have also engaged Rwandair because Silverback is about to fly there (Dubai) as well.”
Coffee, tea, Japanese plums, pineapples, beans, bananas and passion fruits are some of the local produce lined up for the Dubai market.
During negotiations earlier this year, Silverback is said to have asked for about USD 70,000 per Dubai trip while Emirates Airlines, also considered “very expensive,” in the range of USD 100,000 per trip and thus, other alternatives are being explored.
In a separate interview, George Mulamula, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Principal Deputy CEO, noted that the project was mainly dependent on other factors such as, “market analysis to determine the real quantities demanded in the middle east” and the “value chain, in terms of producing quality.”
Insisting that RDB’s role was merely ‘to facilitate’ the private sector parties in the venture, Mulamula stressed that by first exporting to Dubai and the whole Middle East later, “we are hoping it will be a gateway to Europe.”
The development comes at a time when several Emirates business community are looking for investment opportunities mainly in the energy sector in the country.
Apart from working to invest in hydro-electricity, Rwanda has discovered substantial methane gas volumes in Lake Kivu and is currently nearing final exploratory stages of oil prospects.
The country is also exploring wind and geothermal energy potentials.
In 2007 the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai World and the government of Rwanda signed an agreement under which the former will inject $230m in the tourism industry.
However the plans have so far been put on the hold because of the current global economic downturn.