PUBLISHED ON March 25th, 2015

Local manufacturers seek partnerships with EAC firms

Local manufacturers are seeking joint ventures with their East African Community counterparts as one of the ways to penetrate regional markets.

The move could help strengthen the country’s manufacturing and exports sectors, thus accelerating economic growth, according to Eusebe Muhikira, the acting head of export and business development at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

Muhikira added that the development will also help build the competencies of Rwanda producers, making them more competitive.

“We want to build a value chain model that will help us enhance product quality to be able to strengthen our footprint in the region,” Muhikira said while speaking during a business-to-business meeting between Burundi and Rwanda entrepreneurs in Kigali last week.

The meeting was organised by RDB and Traid Links. It attracted 26 companies from Burundi as well.

Muhikira told Business Times on the sidelines of the meeting that RDB and the private sector are already working with firms from all regional countries under the market-linked programme.

“We want to link Rwandan companies with potential distributors across the region through organised sales missions. We have so far linked local producers with 15 companies from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Six Burundian companies from the construction sector have also indicated willingness to join the initiative,” Muhikira said.

The market-linked programme is being implemented by Traid Links Africa in partnership with TradeMark Africa.

According to Bernard O’Connell, the programmes implementation manager, the initiative will increase the market for Rwanda products, as well as improve profitability through reduced costs.

“We also undertake research under the market-linked programme and support capacity building to help generate new export sales,” O’Connell, said.

According to Antoine Kabura, the director of Burundi Investment Promotion Agency, there is need to promote East African companies through selective coaching on quality and other requirements in global markets.

Kabura added that the government should also facilitate exports to boost their capacity to secure new markets for exports produced in the region.

Export promotion

Eric Rukwaya, the sales and marketing manager, Rwanda Farmers Coffee Company, is confident the strategy will boost made in Rwanda products in regional and global markets.

“Businesses cannot just expand without thinking about integration and going regional,” said Gilbert Ndagijimana, the managing director of SOIMEX Plastic, a film extraction and package recycling factory.”

Ndagijimana said regional expansion is important as it helps local companies to build their brands and become more competitive.

Hannington Namara, the TradeMark Africa Rwanda chief, said government and producers must first focus on reducing the cost of doing business and increasing productivity before talking about cross-border trade.

“These are the most important ingredients of cross-border trade. You have to produce quality goods to satisfy the market to become competitive,” Namara said.

Rwanda’s manufacturing sector recorded Rwf67 billion during the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to Rwf68 billion in the same period of 2013, according to National Institute of Statistics Rwanda figures.

The sector contributed only 5 per cent to national Growth Domestic Product (GDP).

Source: All Africa

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TradeMark Africa.