EAC economic bloc good

Traders and manufacturers in the East African Community economic bloc have started reaping big from this large market, Unilever country customer manager George Inholo has echoed

Traders and manufacturers in the East African Community economic bloc have started reaping big from this large market, Unilever country customer manager George Inholo has echoed.

The 120 million people market has boosted business, as the market for manufactured goods has also grown, while some companies are thinking of venturing into new markets in the region.

Unilever is one of the multinational companies that market their range of products on the Rwandan market, among other East African Countries—with brands such as Omo, Blue Band, Close Up, Royco Mchuzi mix and Lifebuoy soap among others.

The company has future plans of setting up a factory in Rwanda. It is hoped when it becomes operational the factory will cut on transport costs and also ensure a steady supply of their products as the markets grows.

At the moment Unilever markets its products through agents and individual businessmen.

Onholo said the Rwanda market is very stable and the government policies are quite favourable for businesses to thrive.

"Though there is some good competition from locally produced goods. The only problems we face are some individuals who import cheap goods from abroad and compete with ours," he said.

He urged the government of Rwanda to be strict on certain imported goods which he described as ‘substandard, warning that they could be harmful to the consumer.

"Our (manufacturers) target is to ensure quality that will impact on the nutrition, health and hygiene of the consumer. Every producer/manufacturer should make quality and professionalism their ultimate goal when producing goods, not just to fleece consumers of their money like it is the case with most imported goods especially from some Asian countries."

Inholo said that there were cases when some of their products especially Omo and Vim were counterfeited but the culprits were apprehended and prosecuted. He was however quick to say such cases have drastically reduced because the authorities in Kigali have tightened the checks on fakes.

"Our market in Rwanda has grown to double digits since 2006, thanks to the new customs law and also the flexibility of the economy."

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