Rwanda embarks on 'Made in Rwanda' Brand

Kigali, December 23, 2014- Ministry of Trade and Industry has launched a campaign to market made in Rwanda products, expected to reduce the country’s trade deficit gap.

Rwanda currently has a significant trade deficit, which for years has been in the range of 15% of the total gross domestic product. This is an issue the government is trying to address, as it will eventually lead to an unsustainable balance of payments situation – a shortage in foreign currency to pay for imports. In response, the government has embarked on strategies both to increase exports and to increase domestic production for the domestic market.

The ‘Buy Local – Twigire’ campaign is one component of the strategies, developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to boost the domestic market. This wider domestic market growth strategy not only targets the demand side of the domestic market, i.e. consumers, it also includes measures to ensure that producers continue to supply clients with products that truly present good value for money.

The one-year campaign launched in Kigali seeks to boost consumption of locally made products through deliberate awareness drive, enhance quality standards, branding and packaging along the value chain, according to Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba.

It’s a comprehensive campaign, Minister Kanimba said, targeting to change the mindset of our people towards consuming locally made products but also boost value addition along the value chain of production.

"We are also targeting producers especially the small and medium enterprises in terms of technology and innovation. We are confident this will boost productivity and help narrow the country’s deficit gap," the Minister added.

He said there are efforts to establish the National Industry Research Development agency which will help enhance competiveness of Rwandan products. He called on producers to conduct intensive publicity about their products so as to keep the campaign alive.

Statistics from National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), show that Rwanda’ s trade deficit widened by 14.9 per cent from 1.05 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months of 2013 to 1.2 billion U.S. dollars in the same period of 2014.

This was attributed to the increase in imports which increased by 11.1 per cent in value and 1.3 per cent in volume compared to exports which slightly increased by only 0.8 per cent during the same period.

The marketing campaign is geared in part to reduce this gap, officials said. However, economists called on government to work to improve the purchasing power per capita to create demand for the local products.

Due emphasis has also been put on improving quality of products and services to meet standards, implementing an appropriate trade information system that improves access to information on national and international trade flows, facilitate trade by removing barriers and fostering greater integration into regional and international trading networks.

Anne Rwigara, the secretary General of Rwanda Association of Manufactures said the campaign will help raise production and manufacturing sector’s contribution to economic growth. The country, she said, is importing too much and you can’t create a strong industrial sector by encouraging importation.

"Promoting locally made products both at home and abroad will grow the country’s manufacturing sector," Rwigara said. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda, GDP figures in the third quarter, Rwanda’s manufacturing sector dropped by 5 per cent partly due to much importation.

Overall the economic growth rate grew by 7.8 per cent during the third quarter of the year with the services and agriculture sectors remaining the main drivers of growth, accounting for 47 per cent and 34 per cent of GDP, respectively.

Rwandan government last week signed agreements with more than 38 companies committing to work toward boosting production and exports so as to reduce trade deficit gap.

Rwanda’s main exports to EAC include tea, coffee, hides and skins, vegetables and alcoholic beverages.

The Minister Kanimba, says there is an increase in intra-regional trade due to the implementation of the EAC common market protocol, which has facilitated free movement of goods and services across the region.

“We are seeing our exports to EAC growing fast and NTBs are being removed. We expect a sustained high growth of our exports in EAC in the next decade,” he reassures. A number of manufacturing, services and trade companies have invested in Rwanda which, according to RDB, number over 60.

These have entered the Rwandan market from within the region in the last 10 years. Participation in regional trade fairs and organization of export meetings within EAC have also contributed to the positive trend of affairs. This has translated into 35 per cent of Rwandan products being exported to the EAC followed by Europe at 32 per cent.

Under EDPRS 2, Rwanda has targeted her exports to reach 28% annual growth in order to reduce the balance of payment deficit.

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