RE: “Senators tip industrial research agency boss on delivering results” (The New Times, May 1). Excellent points by Prof. Karangwa! Indeed pilot projects, lessons learned and scaling up are the way to go in development. Industry sector needs to contribute 27% to GDP if the country is to achieve the Vision 2020 targets — it’s currently 15%, hence the need to intensify/rethink new strategies towards this effort.
The sub-sectors under industry and their contributions to GDP are construction (7%), manufacturing (7%), mining and electricity/water sub-sectors. Available figures show 170,000 people employed in industrial sector, which should contribute to 1.4 million new off-farm jobs by 2020. Service sector is at 725,000 people and both industry and services sector will contribute to the off-farm jobs target.
According to the Rwanda industry policy (2011), the constraints facing industry sector include: infrastructure (electricity, land and transport), human resources, access to finance, trade facilitation, regulatory environment, raw materials and industrial inputs, environmental sustainability, technology research and innovation.
This is a multi-stakeholder approach as various players have their role to play. One can only note with delight the impressive gains in electricity production in the country, and in December 2016 revision in electricity tariffs for industry as announced by RURA.
Human resources, especially supply of technical and vocational skills needed in industries, have also made admirable gains as TVET colleges churn out thousands into the market annually.
Access to finance is probably the weakest area and more interventions are required there.
Trade facilitation, led by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East Africa Community affairs is an ongoing effort, especially within East Africa and COMESA. However, the many trade MoUs with different companies need to be made practical to ensure the benefits trickle down and don’t remain on paper.
Transport costs is another area, but we hope Kigali logistics platform that is now under Dubai World will translate into tangible export gains to the industrial sector. Ultimately, it’s the railroad from Rwanda (either through Uganda or Tanzania) that will be the game changer.
The regulatory environment, with its well known Doing Business Index under RDB, has gone a long way in opening up the industry to investments. Under this, there is the special economic zone (SEZ) policy and the 6 or so industrial parks around the country. The investment law has made good provisions for operations under the SEZ framework which favours industries, especially those engaging in exports.
Environmental sustainability with a very zealous REMA ensures all projects have a tough environmental impact assessment approval system in place.
The last constraint is research and innovation and this is where the national industrial research agency mandate falls, and as Prof. Karangwa noted, this is very practical oriented research with tangible inputs. That said, I have yet to see a comprehensive policy from the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion on gender mainstreaming into trade and industry.
If we ignore women, who make up over 50% of the population, we will, as President Paul Kagame well put it, “shoot ourselves in the foot”.
I am confident that with more concerted efforts, industrial sector will achieve its objectives within five years.