The business community is optimistic that the new shareholders of Rwanda bonded warehouses, Magerwa, will increase efficiency through improved customer services.
The government of Rwanda sold 66.25 per cent of its stake in Magerwa, which was increasingly failing to cope with changes in the global business environment and dynamism in Information Technology.
The privatisation also underlines government’s plans to liberalise the market as well divest from business.
The new owners— Portek International— has promised to trim freight cost for imports and exports through improved services, new technologies and promoting a greater level of communication and cooperation among all stakeholders.
The initiatives highlighted by the Singaporean company raised optimism within the business community, which expects the volume of goods handled to rise.
“Our expectations are high given the fact that Singapore is Rwanda’s role model in development, we hope a lot will change for the better especially in services,” said Ben Gasamagera, the owner of SUPA factory.
He says that Magerwa, which handles more than 80 per cent of Rwanda’s total imports and exports, should have specialised warehouses for specific goods and also improve its infrastructure
“The infrastructure should be developed whereby specific warehouses for particular goods and close all bribery loopholes at the handling area,” Gasamagera emphasised.
Improving Magerwa’s infrastructure like warehouses, truck parking yards and the fleet lifting equipments would also facilitate the country’s ambitious objective of becoming a regional trade logistics hub.
Alphonse Mihayo, a trainer in clearing and forwarding services said that his company expects to gain skills from the new Magerwa particularly on how to integrate Information Technology Communication in to daily services and reducing the number of days for goods to be cleared.
“The days should be brought down from three to one day for goods to be out and ICT be extended to other stakeholders like customs and clearing agents,” he requested.
Whilst its earnings increased slightly, Magerwa posted a substantial decline in the volume of goods handled last year.
The volume of goods handled by Magerwa slid by 10 per cent to 127,197 tonnes in 2010 from 140,131 tonnes in 2009 as the company experienced stiffer competition from the region.
But its total income increased by 5 per cent to Rwf3. 5 billion compared from Rwf3.3 billion in 2009.
“Portek International is experienced in this industry. We hope it will have a huge impact on the company and their skills will be extended to stakeholders like customs and clearing agents,” Mihayo said.
The new Managing Director of Magerwa, Adam Iskounen, seeks to raise the company’s regional profile by sharing his vast experience and sharp customer focus.
“For a landlocked country like Rwanda, which is more than 1,000 km away from the nearest seaport, transport and logistics of goods inevitably pose serious challenges,” Iskounen emphasised.
Rwandan goods have to transit several countries, through numerous check-points and weighing stations, before reaching their destination.