The construction of a new cross border market in Karongi District is expected to boost trade between Rwanda and the DR Congo upon completion.
Construction of the market was launched on Tuesday and will be completed within 12 months at a cost of Rwf 1.58 billion.
The market is located in Bwishyura sector, on the shores of Lake Kivu. It will comprise a section for selling livestock, a warehouse, slaughter house as well as vegetables section.
During the groundbreaking ceremony in Karongi District, on Tuesday, Minister for Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba said cross border trade is very important for Rwanda as it will help decrease imports.
A study conducted in 2009, showed that products sold in cross border markets constituted 25% of Rwanda’s exports at the time.
The minister said the Government has realised the importance of these markets, in development of informal cross border trade.
Kanimba called upon people to embrace this trade and border officials to facilitate traders.
Karongi informal cross border trade has been growing in recent years, with Rwf 900 million in 2012, and an estimated more than Rwf3 billion in 2015.
“This has been achieved without enough infrastructure. Now that you have got infrastructure, we expect this market to develop further,” Kanimba said.
He noted that roads connecting Karongi with other districts have been completed.
Minister Kanimba said that relations between Rwanda and DR Congo have notably improved.
He urged local leaders in the Western Province to organise regular meetings with their Congolese counterparts to sort out any outstanding issues.
Caritas Mukandasira, the Western Province governor urged area residents to work together to grow their businesses.
She also called on investors to seize the opportunity and bring modern boats since most of the boats used currently are traditional.
Alexis Gahizi, the head of the Private Sector in Karongi District said they will liaise with traders on the other side to know what products they need or “see if we can get from there some products that we import from abroad”.
Karongi border contributes 68% of the total informal exports with neighbouring countries.
This market will contribute to elevating informal activities into formal business due to the infrastructure development.
It will also provide space for cross-border traders to do their businesses as well as facilitate revenue collection.
The project will be implemented by Karongi district in partnership with UK`s Department for International Development (DFID), Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) among others.
The project is part of Government plan to facilitate cross border traders.
Informal Cross Border Trade accounts for a considerable amount of Rwanda’s regional trade.
Latest survey indicates that Rwanda exported goods worth $ 108.3million informally in 2015 while informally imported goods worth US$22 million.
This is distinct from the formal sector, where Rwanda runs a trade deficit.
Rwanda has 53 crossing points. 36 of them are informal crossing points.
Besides Karongi cross market, other markets are under construction. They include Cyanika in the north, Akanyaru in the south, among others.
According to Central Bank’s informal trade statistics 2015, the DR Congo is Rwanda’s largest informal export market with US dollar 82.1 million earned from exports in 2015, approximately 76% of total informal
Uganda comes second with $ 18.9 million. At least 90% of total informal cross border exports from Rwanda are in the districts, where Rwanda shares the border with DR Congo.
Those districts include Karongi, Rusizi, Rubavu.