The Nyungwe National Forest concessionaire will set up factories to process timber locally to boost the construction sector. The company will also set up two energy and infrastructure industries.
New Forests Company (NFC), a South African firm, recently signed a 49-year concession with the government to harvest 8,500 hectares of pine, cypress, eucalyptus and acacia planted as a buffer zone around the Nyungwe National Forest in the south-western part of the country.
“We want to add value to the timber locally in a series of processing plants over the next few years directed at wood products for the construction, energy and infrastructure industries both for the local and the East African market,” the firm said in a press release.
It added that they would proactively engage with communities, communicate company plans and targets and work collaboratively to erect and improve development infrastructure.
“We will invest in establishing micro-enterprises that grow in harmony with and are strengthened by the presence of the forest,” the company noted.
The firm said it would also empower Rwanda’s entrepreneurial rural farmers through the provision of capacity building and critical capital investment interventions to unlock economic development potential.
“Learning from previous income generation schemes, New Forest would focus its livelihoods enhancement projects in areas where it has technical expertise and can relate well to its overall business of tree growing and timber products,” it explained.
The micro-enterprises on which NFC will focus in Rwanda include apiculture and, once the company begins replanting the buffer zone, a tree out-growers programme.
“We have already identified the first industrial site in the east of the buffer zone, with earth and civil works having started last month,” the release stated. The site involves a nine-month project roll out, with project completion expected by October this year.
The Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislaus Kamanzi, said the investment would define the delicate balance between harvesting and replanting to maximise sustainability and yield from the trees.
Most of the trees found in the buffer zone are fully mature and were planted in the early to mid-1970s.
The move makes Rwanda NFC’s fourth African country to invest in after Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.Follow https://twitter.com/Ben_Gasore