If Rwanda is to benefit from international trade, there is need for entrepreneurs to bridge the import and export gap, the Minister of Trade and Industry Vincent Munyeshyaka said over the weekend.
At a ceremony held in Nyagatare to officially close the Itorero Imbaturabukungu bringing together more than 550 entrepreneurs from Eastern Province, Munyeshyaka said that cross border trade continues to benefit other countries than it does Rwanda because business people concentrate more on importing than exporting.
Munyeshyaka pointed out that in 2017 alone, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya (East Africa) did more business with the country, specifically export more than they import from Rwanda.
“For the case of Rwanda and Tanzania, our exports to them brought in $1.4m, but their exports to us gave them around $106m,” he said.
He said exports to Uganda brought in $29m, while Uganda made $ 209m from goods exported to Rwanda. There seems to be some balance with Kenya at least, because Rwanda exported $ 104m worth in products while Kenya made $157m from Rwanda.
He called on the entrepreneurs to find a sustainable solution for the “puzzle”, saying that they hold the key.
“Let’s add value to our products and export them instead of thinking of going abroad to bring other people’s products. To achieve the targeted exports, we must join forces in whatever we do, produce what satisfies us as a country and then let the rest be exported to other countries,” he said.
Munyeshyaka said Rwanda looks to create over 1.5 million jobs in the next 7 years saying that this can only be made possible by the private sector.
Industry is key
Minister Munyeshyaka pointed out that there are chances yet to be exploited by entrepreneurs in Eastern Province, especially calling for more agro-processing factories.
Using milk as an example, Munyeshyaka said in more than 4 million litres of raw milk produced in Rwanda, only below 10 percent is processed, and the rest goes to waste.
“The secret is not having a lot of money, the first secret is having an idea, and the second is cooperation,” he advised.