KIGALI - Rwanda is set to benefit from regional funding to expand and interconnect key regional transport corridors in a bid to increase intra-trade among Common Market for Eastern Southern Africa (COMESA) member countries.
The fund is part of the three signed programmes between the European Union (EU) and COMESA to facilitate the bloc’s economic integration process.
The 10th European Development Fund (EDF) worth Euro45 million will connect the Kigali – Gatuna and the Rwanda – Uganda Northern Corridor.
According to Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the Minister of Trade and Industry who attended the just concluded COMESA Council of Ministers meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, COMESA countries are devoted to ensure the operation of customs union and full integration.
Nsanzabaganwa said that they are targeting 2012 to have a fully operational customs union.
She also noted that Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is yet to ratify the Free Trade Area treaty, a move that is expected to boost trade with Rwanda.
“Technically it has been approved and they intend to table it before their parliament - which is good news to Rwanda because DRC recorded high cross border trade with us,” she said.
A study by the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) conducted between May 2009- April 2010 showed that DRC is Rwanda’s main informal trade partner, as it accounted for 63 percent of total transactions and 80 percent of total exports.
The survey put the total of Rwanda’s exports and imports at Rwf27.6 billion and Rwf12.3 billion respectively resulting in trade surplus of RwfRwf15.3 billion.
In the report, the volume of informal cross border trade flows between Rwanda and neighboring countries hit Rwf40billion during the period under review, signaling that the country is increasingly becoming a trade hub in the East and Central Africa region.
The study was conducted on 53 big and small posts including unofficial border posts to determine the magnitude (in terms of value and volume) of informal cross border flows.