Rwanda has started implementing a series of strategies to stimulate its domestic market in light of the trade deficit the country is experiencing.
Between 2012 and 2014, major exports from Rwanda were over 83 billion Rwandan Francs ($108 million) and imports exceeded 133 billion Rwandan Francs. To mitigate this deficit, Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation started the Made in Rwanda campaign and adopted a Domestic Markets Recapturing strategy to combat issues faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Rwanda’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba summarised the implementation plan of the Domestic Markets Recapturing strategy as follows:
- “First it’s a communication campaign like the one we started with Made In Rwanda Expo which is going to be followed by a corporate roll-out programme which will cover the whole year up to December 2016.
- The second category of activities includes supporting local producers through government procurement.
- Third, we are designing a national small and medium programme to upgrade the products and the quality of our SME products to bring them at a level where they can compete with the competitors from the region.”
He adds that the focus will also be on upgrading the quality to ensure that products from Rwanda are known for being high quality in the region.
“These are the kind of initiatives we are focusing within this Made-In-Rwanda campaign… To change the mind-set of our people towards locally made products and boost value addition along the value chain of production – it’s imperative to conduct and sustain the Made-In-Rwanda campaign,” said Kanimba.
Kanimba said the campaign would not only target consumers but also producers, especially those in SMEs.
“There are very high expectations from the Made-In-Rwanda campaign, in terms of mobilisation of the population support, local industries and economic growth tours,” the minister added.
In that respect the government said it will support all efforts to promote products made in the region as it targets a 28 per cent annual export growth by 2020.
Rwanda is part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the East African Community (EAC), a regional economic bloc and partnership between Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
With this in mind it will be mindful of their agreements but continue to promote locally produced products to protect its own industry.
“No single country in the global trading arena has ever been denied the policy space to promote its own industries, even when we think our infant industry is in danger – even in the context of EAC common market protocol, we have the policy space to protect those industries,” said Emmanuel Hategeka, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade and Industry in Rwanda.