Rwanda’s fledgling industrial sector could witness a major transformation if the proposed Rwf45b Provincial Industrial Parks project is hammered into action.
The proposed project, still in its validation phase, seeks to set up four provincial industrial parks in Bugesera, Huye, Nyabihu and Rusizi.
According to the proposal, the parks will accommodate over 653 large, small and medium industries to bolster manufacturing sector.
“We are going to get the study and prepare a cabinet policy paper to see how to develop this land,” the Minister of Trade and Industry Francois Kanimba, said during the validation workshop of the study on Monday.
Statistics show that manufacturing lags behind other sectors in terms of contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.
Rwanda’s manufacturing/industrial sector contributes 4.3 per cent to the country’s GDP compared to 8.7 in Kenya and 8 per cent in Uganda.
An economist Dr. Peter de Valk, said the sector has been struggling with multiple bottlenecks among them lack of enough land to allocate to investors, unavailability of suitably trained skilled and semi-skilled labor among others.
The project is expected to generate 16,287 jobs in the next ten years on account of a high projected Foreign Direct Investment Inflow.
Bugesera Industrial park will occupy a 200 hectare parcel of land with an investment of about Rwf16b while Huye Industrial Park will cover 50 hectares at a cost of Rwf8b.
Rusizi Industrial Park will cover an area of 50 hectares at a cost of Rwf11b while Nyabihu Industrial Park will occupy 50 hectares at a cost of Rwf10b.
Experts are optimistic that the parks will also attract more investors to set up bigger industries and reduce the country’s imports bills as well as add value to exports.
“There will be enough demand for industrial land in future but the location will be more likely in the main economic centers,” Brendan Maguire, a consultant working for the project said, adding that demand for more industrial land is expected to rise by 400 hectares.
He notes that for industrial parks to have long-term viability. they must be integrated to the rest of the economy in infrastructure, transport and production both physically and institutionally.
Goodman Musemakweri a trainer in entrepreneurship says that the industrial parks would give push to SMEs to produce value added goods and also attract more local entrepreneurs in the sector.
Experts believe that the provincial parks will establish Rwanda as a stronger industrial competitor in the region, reduce dependency on imports and create a viable export market with high value added goods and services.