The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has called upon the local business community to prepare for ruthless competition from regional traders as the country implements the East African Community (EAC) Common Market.
Yesterday, Rwanda joined the rest of the East African Community (EAC) member states to launch the Common Market Protocol that will allow the free movement of people, goods, services, capital and labour in the region
Speaking at a press briefing at launch, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, said that while the Common Market will provide enormous opportunities for the business community, the process will usher in stiff competition in particular for the private sector.
“The reality is we shall have some industries losing but we will also others who will come up. Our private sector will be affected because it is young just 16 years old. Prior to the current government doing business was looked as a job for failures in life,” Nsanzabaganwa said.
She explained that before the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi the government then inherited a colonial system of encouraging Rwandans to do “white collar jobs”.
However, the Minister observed that the private sector can take advantage of opportunities created by the Common Market to reposition itself and grow.
“The advantage is that the economy is growing and it is possible to leapfrog and grow,” she said.
To increase their efficiency and competitiveness, Nsanzabaganwa suggested that Rwanda’s private sector will have to enter into joint ventures and mergers with their regional counterparts.
“We have been running campaigns telling them (business community) to prepare for what is happening; they will have to improve customer care, improve the quality of their products, diversify and also concentrate on things they are good at,” she said.
The Minister also observed that the challenge related to low skills in the private sector will be addressed as the Common Market takes root, as it will enable to tap from the regional market cheaply.
Competition was also echoed by Monique Mukarulinza, the Minister in charge of EAC Affairs who called upon the private sector to be very innovative and develop ways to take advantage of the opportunities that will be created by the Common Market.
“In the region the business community works 24 hours yet some do not have security. But here in where security and peace is assured and guaranteed the business community closes at 5pm. Rwandans should change working shifts and start operating 24hours,” she said.
After implementation of the Common Market, the next stage of regional integration will be a monetary union or single currency and ultimately a political federation.