The National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) has concluded a study whose main objective was to conduct a technology needs assessment in agro-processing, biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical products driving industries in order to identify the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
The findings of the newly conducted study were revealed in a one day work shop that was held on the 27/09/2016 at Hill Top Hotel where participants discussed and shared recommendations on the uses of industrial research and development.
The study aimed at providing a database of statistics to support research on the issues of productivity, profitability and uses of industrial research and development and to establish performance indicators as well as collecting data on new or enhanced materials, products, devices, processes, technologies or services related to research and development.
According to NIRDA, there was need to conduct a research on technology needs assessment survey covering agro-processing and Biotechnology industries for five selected products (Rice, Wheat, Maize, Banana, and Cassava).
The scope of study included designing survey tools and training NIRDA staff on how it is done and guiding them through the methodology of conducting surveys by making them practically participate in this survey.
Also the study identified and analyzed challenges in technologies used in processing and innovation and what should be done to ensure that Rwandan products are of high quality to be competitive in the region.
During the workshop, while giving his remarks, Dr. Joseph Mungarulire, the Director General of National Industrial and Development Agency welcomed the study findings and how they will impact promotion of made in Rwanda products.
Suitability of raw materials was found to be high at 91% of chemical and pharmaceutical industries while 9% indicated that the raw materials did not meet the expected suitability standards.
The survey also revealed a pattern where high percentages (67%, 73%, and 75%) of chemical industries use imported, local, and both sources of raw materials respectively compared to the percentages of pharmaceutical industries which are below 40% for all sources of raw materials.
54% of industries in both sectors reported getting enough supply of raw materials and 46% of them not getting enough. . In general, more firms do not get enough of the raw materials that they need for their production processes.
Rwanda does not manufacture high technology equipment and so most firms rely on imported technology which is expensive. It is therefore common to find many firms especially the small and medium scale ones opting for manual and semi-automation processes respectively.
Challenges in accessing technology, machinery and equipment in the production process
The type of technology used is predominantly semi-automation process accounting for 58% of the whole sector. A high percentage (65%) of the chemical firms tend to use semi-automatic processing of their products, including paints and other products whose processing is not fully automated.
The origin of the technology used is mainly comes from outside whereby 57% of the firms use imported technology, 30% use own technology and 13% use both own and imported technology.
Also lack of enough expertise, knowledge and skills in the technology used plus a low number of highly skilled technicians; scientists, pharmacists and engineers with enough skills in chemical composition and dosage of products and the lack of means to train staff.
It was noted that there was still lack of enough local suppliers for machinery and spare parts and no availability of modern machines plus insufficient and unreliable supply of electricity in rural areas where some firms operate.
The study also revealed that it was very expensive to carry out maintenance works because there are no accessories available on the local market and some exporters hide information on purchased machines bought from them;
In order to improve the performance of local industries, there is need to improve on advertisements in order to increase on both local and foreign markets for made in Rwanda products.
As much as we try to promote locally made products, there is a problem when it comes to finding market for made in Rwanda products and it was recommended that the government of Rwanda should increase support in this area.
Government should come up with the policy on wage rates for industrial workers because with better wages, the workers will be motivated leading to improved performance.
It was also recommended that government should work on improving the infrastructure of the country especially the roads which will lead to improved industrial performance.
It was also recommended to deepen collaboration with other research divisions with NIRDA especially where multidisciplinary approaches are required.
Participants recommended for more efforts in exploring all possibilities of marketing Rwanda industrial products with and the rest of the region.
A comparative study on the cost of raw material, electricity and water in Rwanda should be carried out because the high costs of the factors of production make the locally made products to be prohibitively priced and rendered uncompetitive in the region.