A delegation from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) yesterday concluded charting ways of making manufacturing sector a key driver of private sector growth.
Speaking during the two-day event in Kigali, Hannington Namara, the Private Sector Federation chief executive, said their target was to see Rwandan and other manufacturers create business linkages for themselves.
“Inputs like chairs or cars all come from manufacturing. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to the sector. We don’t have even industries that produce for export,” said Namara.
Namara said the dialogue would not only help link small and medium firms in the country to the big producers in the region, but also attract foreign direct investment that would increase exports.
“We are going to facilitate trade and investment by working to remove non-tariff barriers and putting in place the required infrastructure,” he said.
Mathews Chikankheni, the chairperson of Comesa Business Council, said most of the region’s opportunities and resources have not been fully exploted to create jobs and improve livelihoods of the millions of people the body stands for.
“This dialogue is one way to show that countries can’t succeed using the ‘go alone’ approach. We need to integrate and build our infrastructure and boost regional trade,” he said
Earlier, Francois Kanimba, the minister for trade and industry, cited challenges Rwandan manufacturers face to access Comesa markets.
“Manufacturing is not only key to growth of Comesa, but also has major spill-over benefits to other sectors such as agriculture. To tap into these benefits, we need to empower our manufacturers to increase their product competitiveness,” he said.
“Instead of working to export our coffee to the US, let’s see how we can first tap into the regional market,” said Robert Bayigamba, president-elect of the Rwanda Association of Manufacturers.