Contractors are putting final touches on four cross-border markets expected to be inaugurated by the end of this month.
In a recent interview with The New Times, François Kanimba, the Minister for Trade, Industry and EAC Affairs (MINEACOM) said that three markets; namely Cyanika (in Burera District) along the Ugandan border, Karongi and Rusizi I markets along the DR Congo border are in the final stages of completion.
Also Construction works on (Rubavu) cross-border market is at 70 per cent and will be completed by the end of this year, according to Kanimba.
Kanimba said that the idea to construct the markets came after the government realised that informal cross-border traders were finding it difficult to do their business while some resorted to smuggling goods.
In 2016, cross-border informal trade brought in $150 million up from $80 million back in 2010 and there is a hope that the markets will boost the trade according to the minister.
It is estimated that between 70-80 per cent of cross-border traders are women mainly in informal trade, with 90 per cent of the women traders relying on cross-border trade as their sole source of income.
“We are planning to inaugurate Cyanika and Karongi markets this month (July), part of Rusizi I market can also start operating even though we want to expand it to avail more space for traders,” Kanimba explained.
He added that the Rusizi market was constructed by members of the business community in the district.
Cyanika and Karongi cross-border markets each cost Rwf1.5 billion and Rubavu market will cost $2.6 million from Trade Mark East Africa.
Part of Rusizi market is being constructed by Rusizi Border Investment Company at the tune of Rwf1.2 billion but the government will inject $1.9million more to build more infrastructure that can accommodate more traders.
Another market in Nyamasheke known as Rugari cross-border market is under construction as the ministry has secured funds worth Rwf700 million from the World Bank.
“The programme targets all borders, we discussed with African Development Bank and agreed that cross-border markets of Rusumo and Kagitumba projects will be incorporated in the bigger project to construct Kagitumba- Rusumo road,” he noted.
The remaining borders such as Nemba and Gatuna borders will be planned for as finances allow it.
“The informal cross-border market is growing fast despite security issues in Burundi. But if you look at this kind of trade in DR Congo, it is growing faster and though we share it with other nationals, Rwandans get a lot from there as we are close neighbours,” said the minister stressing the need to build more cross border markets.
Private sector upbeat
Traders have welcomed the completion of the cross border markets from their respective areas saying having the markets at the borders will make trade easier and more beneficial than before.
“The cross-border market was much needed and will help improve business. Traders have been finding it difficult taking their goods to DR Congo. Now, clients from both countries will be finding goods at the market,” said Aimable Urimubenshi, a trader and PSF representative in Karongi.
“Women cross-border traders are likely to benefit more as they do small but needed trade such as selling livestock, fish and vegetables, having the market close to them will help them manage to both trade and raise their children who were sometimes left unattended to while their mothers crossed the borders,” he added
The markets have warehouse facilities and will address the challenge of lack of storage facilities as well as boosting exports.
Thanks to the markets traders will be able to network, share information, as well as discuss ways on how to enhance market share and ensure sustainable supply besides improving the supply value chain.