The Private Sector Federation (PSF) has set its sights very high; it seeks to reduce the country’s import bill by 50 per cent in the next two years.
It plans to achieve that by promoting more locally made products, and according to the body, the efforts are beginning to pay off. Already locally manufactured construction materials have reduced the import bill by 17.2 per cent this year alone.
The ongoing Made-in-Rwanda expo has attracted around 450 local manufacturers of an array of products. The downside of things is that most of the products are rarely visible on the major markets such as supermarkets or upscale shops.
They still wallow in the misconceived myth that imported products are superior to local ones. That state of affairs will remain the same as long as manufacturers don’t change tact and come up with smart marketing strategies.
It is possible that some of the firms target the export market, such as the new textile and shoe factories, but they should start shifting attention locally. With the phasing out of second-hand clothes just around the corner, this would be the right time to make their presence felt.
Some months ago one of the textile factories had promised to make available shirts on the local market that would cost as low as Rwf 800. Maybe they could already be on the market but there is low visibility.
Displaying their wares only when PSF organises a fair is not the way to go. People need to be told that there are some quality locally produced products, and the only way to do that is aggressive marketing that our local firms are yet to embrace.