The National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) has said that the value of imports increased by 8 percent from Rwf1.2 billion in 2008 to Rwf1.3 billion last year.
The bank said that there was a sharp rise in major imports including food, construction materials, intermediate goods and other final consumption goods.
“Imports in 2009 were expected to grow even higher but the proportion is manageable considering the fact that it was in the middle of the global financial crisis,” Vivian Mwitirehe, Director of Statistics in the NBR said in an interview.
The Central Bank also said that in terms of volume, total imports increased to 993 tonnes in 2009 from 848.5 tonnes in the previous year.
“While this reflected stronger spending, increase in imports was not the key driver of domestic inflation,” Mwitirehe said.
She added that Rwanda’s economic growth is likely to rise this year.
The high demand for imports increased Rwanda’s trade deficit as exports dropped by as much as 25 percent, a decrease that is largely attributed to the global economic recession.
Mwitirehe said as much as exports decreased and reduced on foreign exchange, government also needed foreign currencies because it improved on the imports receipts.
Export earnings dropped from Rwf272.7 million in 2008 to 192.8 million last year. In volume it reduced to 103 tonnes from 121.6 tonnes in 2009 and 2008 respectively.
The drop is registered in minerals, horticultural produce like bananas, fresh fruits, and beans. In other exports there is also a decrease in handcrafts, hides and skins exports and tourism.