Local manufacturers will soon find it easier to export their products following efforts by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the International Trade centre (ICT) to establish barcoding for Rwanda’s products. Barcoding is one of the best practices. Barcodes are used to encode products, serial and batch numbers.
Barcodes plays a key role in supply chains, enabling retailers, manufacturers, transport providers and hospitals to automatically identify and track products as they move through the supply chain
Rwanda has been relying on its neighbours, including Kenya and Tanzania, to get codes for its products, according to Alex Ruzibukira, the director of investments and industries at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said.
Ruzibukira said government and the ITC are currently working on a strategy that will help Rwanda acquire its own barcodes from Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI).
According to Ruzibukira, the initiative will help locally-made products become more competitive in regional and global markets, thus boost the country’s export sector. Ruzibukira was speaking during a stakeholders meeting on packaging and barcoding in Kigali last week.
The meeting, organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and ITC, brought together manufacturers, SMEs, and packaging experts from Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.
“Since we banned plastic bags, there have been many challenges which we are trying to turn into business opportunities. So, we are working with ITC to see how we can address the challenges of packaging without undermining the country’s policy on plastic packaging,” he said.
He added that embracing barcodes is essential for the exports sector, noting that it will also help attract more investors into the country.
According to Charles Rutagyengwa, the ITC co-ordinator, Rwanda was recommended to get a packaging centre and barcodes, saying these will enable the country to tap into global business opportunities, hence grow its economy.
He said Rwanda was advised to work with other countries, including Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana, for the time being, and share knowledge and experience.
“Our role will be to support them establish the facility. Barcodes will support the country’s export sector,” Rutagyengwa said.
He said they are working on a plan of action to fast-track the project.
A technical team and manufacturers from Rwanda recently visited Ghana and Tanzania to acquaint themselves with the system.
Alphonse Kwizera, a consultant and the Rwanda Association of Manufactures (RAM), said local industrialists want to forge partnerships with countries already using the technology to learn from their experience.
Kwizera said the development is good news for the manufacturing sector, urging producers to get involved in the activities of setting up the system to understand how it works.
Fighting counterfeiting and illicit trade
Fatima Kange, the executive director of Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) Tanzania, said barcoding is ‘a must have’ for Rwandan products to be more competitive.
“You must be members of GSI because all global brands are using GSI barcodes, which makes them more competitive,” Kange told producers.
She also urged producers to improve packaging and branding to have an edge on competitors on the global market.
Rwanda targets to grow its exports by 28 per cent annually by 2018 under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II).
The country’s trade deficit reduced 4.7 per cent in the first half of 2015, from $901.4 million in same period last year, to $858.8 million, thanks to an increase in export receipts.
This performance could further improve if the country embraced best international trade practices, including barcoding.