African countries grouped under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) must invest in energy to attract more industries that are able to add value to agricultural products that can meet US market standards.
AGOA, which is expected to expire by 2015, is aimed at increasing access to U.S. market for over 41 Sub-Saharan African countries.
“We want Africa to invest in energy to attract investors who can build industries that are able to add value to agricultural products from Africa,” says Connie Hamilton, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Africa Constance.
She says that investing in energy and infrastructure will attract investors who will transform agricultural products into industrial products ready for the US market.
Most of the agricultural products from Africa are considered to be of low quality and thus lack competitiveness on the international market.
However, the call comes at a time Rwanda is heavily investing in energy production.
Rwanda targets to increase electricity generation to 1000MW by 2018 from the current 67 MW.
“Rwanda will benefit from hydropower and methane gas production …,” State Minister for Energy and Water, Dr Coletha Ruhamya, said in an interview, adding that the increase will boost growth in the industrial sector.
In another development, Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has also set up over six laboratories to help improve the standards and quality of Rwanda’s exports.
“That’s why we are trying to bring into our testing traceability chain. The test is calibrated into international standards,” said Mukunzi Antoine, the Head of Biochemical Laboratories at RBS,.
Moreover, industrialists are also optimistic that such initiatives will supplement the efforts they have already taken to conform to international standards.
“If you see our labelling and packaging, they conform to the standards at international markets, it is not only passing standards but also safety management systems,” the Managing Director SULFO Industries, Dharma Rajan noted.
Rajan notes that manufacturers should go an extra mile in letting their products accredited by international bodies if they are to secure a safer international market demand.
“We send our products to accredited laboratories across the world.
The whole idea for this certification is to benchmark ourselves against the best management system in the world.”
Rwanda has also rolled out so many business reforms aimed at attracting investments.