Lack of innovation tops Rwanda’s industrial challenges - survey

According to an assessment conducted this year by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) in order to design the country’s first Industrial Master Plan, more than fifty per cent of Rwandan Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the manufacturing sector duplicate products. 
L-R: Manassey Nshuti (L) and Monique Nsanzabaganwa. (Photo E. Kwibuka)
L-R: Manassey Nshuti (L) and Monique Nsanzabaganwa. (Photo E. Kwibuka)

According to an assessment conducted this year by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) in order to design the country’s first Industrial Master Plan, more than fifty per cent of Rwandan Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the manufacturing sector duplicate products. 

The government survey identifies the biggest challenge facing Rwanda’s industries as the lack of innovation with manufacturing entities being compelled to share clients of similar products.

“They [MSMEs manufacturers] are in different areas dotted with different potentialities. We would really expect them to differentiate their products if they were innovative,” said Francine Umurungi, the Director of Trade and Industry at MINICOM.

The country’s proposed Industrial Master Plan was presented yesterday at a workshop held at Aberdeen Guest House, Kagugu.
The participants were expected to polish the Master Plan as they also commemorated the Africa Industrialisation Day.

This annual event is normally commemorated on November 20. This year’s theme is ‘Processing of Raw Materials for Sustainable Growth and Development’.

“Industrialisation has led to broad-based development and economic transformation in other parts of the world. It can and must do the same in Africa,” urged the United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in a message related to observing this day last week.

Since February this year, MINICOM is jointly working with consultants to design an Industrial Master Plan for Rwanda. It has a deadline of submitting it to cabinet before the end of the year.

The plan is expected to be a basis for planning and implementing strategic industrial policies to accelerate development.

“We need it to guide us in identifying where we can channel our limited resources in order to have a bigger impact in supporting our industrial development,” said the Minister of Trade and Industries, Monique Nsanzabaganwa.

Among yesterday’s propositions were training manufacturers, linking the country’s high education and research institutions to factories and increasing government investment in research.

“The reason why our manufacturers are producing the same products is because they are not going out to see what is happening elsewhere. There is need to develop trainings for the people in the manufacturing sector and arrange study tours for them,” Umurungi said.

MINICOM’s survey revealed that there are currently close to 3000 MSMEs dealing in manufacturing activities and 67 large manufacturers in the country.

Other challenges found with these industries include lack of financial resources, limited Energy sources and poor marketing.

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