The government has begun promoting production and consumption of locally made products as a way to help the country reduce the trade deficit with imports far outweighing exports in value.
Referring to this negative balance of payment situation, Francois Kanimba, the trade and industry minister said last week, “To change the mindset of our people towards locally made products and boost value addition along the value chain of production, it is imperative to conduct and sustain the ‘Made in Rwanda’ campaign.
“This campaign is not only targeting consumers but also producers especially small and medium Enterprises in terms of technology and innovation to boost production,” he said.
The Ministry is working with the Private Sector Federation (PSF Rwanda) and launched the campaign. This is a campaign that will go across the country to educate Rwandans about products made within the country hence increase their knowledge about such products and therefore support government efforts of reducing importation of the country.
“To change the mindset of our people towards locally made products and boost value addition along the value chain of production, it is imperative to conduct and sustain ‘Made -in Rwanda’ campaign. This campaign is not only targeting consumers but also producers especially small and medium Enterprises in terms of technology and innovation to boost production,” Minister of trade and industry, Francois Kanimba said while launching the first Made in Rwanda Expo 2016 recently in Kigali.
The government has developed the Domestic Market Recapturing Strategy (DMRS) which it believes will help fill import bill gap the country currently has.
To identify priority sectors that can quickly contribute to Rwanda DMRS, the trade ministry conducted a study on this strategy that was validated in February 2015.
“This study indicated that the total foreign exchange savings induced by the DMRS could reach almost $450million per year. The total potential foreign exchange savings resulting from the DMRS accounts for around 18% of the total import bill. Almost a third of this will come from a simple product like cement,” Kanimba said.
Rwanda’s cement factory has now expanded significantly to produce six times the previous capacity and is in position to supply 100% of the cement consumed in the country right now.
“This is just one example. We have other products which if focused on we can reduce significantly the import bill,” the Minister said.
The implementation plan of the DMRS highlighted the following key activities to recapture the domestic market such as the communication campaign like the made-in Rwanda expo which is going to be followed by a complete rollout programme which will cover the whole year up to December 2016. Supporting local producers through government procurement, designing a national SME programme to upgrade the products and quality of our SME products to bring them to a level where they can compete with competitors from the region.
“It also includes focusing on upgrading the national quality infrastructure to ensure that our products in the region distinguish themselves by high quality standards. This is the kind of initiatives we are focusing on in this made in Rwanda campaign to achieve the saving mentioned above,” Kanimba said.
“This exhibition aims at bringing to the attention of Rwandans of products produced in Rwanda and increasing demand for local goods and services to stimulate export trade, which is in line with the advice Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has continuously given to the private sector operators of thinking big and acting big,” PSF chairman, Benjamin Gasamagera said.
According to Gasamagera, one way of acting and thinking big is to patronise locally made goods and services and bring them to a level of international standards.
The made in Rwanda campaign seeks to enhance quality standards branding and packaging of locally produced products along the value chain.
There are high expectations from the ‘Made in Rwanda’ campaign in terms of mobilization of the population to support local industries to economic growth towards the achievement of the Vision 2020 targets.
According to minister Kanimba, the DMRS focuses mainly on three key potential sectors where the government thinks there is a hug potential.
These include cement and other construction materials such as aluminum, steel, plastic tubes, ceramics among others. The government estimates to save around $200million on the country’s import bill when the strategy is complete.
“We have light manufacturing products like textile and garments, leather products, pharmaceuticals, detergents among other where we have a potential to save up to $124 million and the agro-processed products such as sugar, fertilizers, rice, edible oil, dried fish, and maize among others where we can save up to $120million,” Kanimba said.
“With the right and enabling environment Rwandans especially the private sector are willing to help government promote the objectives of diversification, backward integration, non-traditional and local products exports which are at the roots of all such initiatives about made in Rwanda,” Gasamagera said.
East African Business Week.