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USAID hands over new laboratory equipment to RSB that will make Rwanda the first country in the region to test presence of heavy metals in food and water

KIGALI – Rwanda – On Wednesday, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) handed over to the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS), high technology laboratory equipment that will facilitate testing for heavy metal traces. The equipment is the first of its kind in the East Africa region, positioning Rwanda as a regional hub for testing samples of food, cosmetics and wastewater. The testing of mercury and arsenic in water samples, which was taking approximately 60 days when sent abroad, will now be completed by RSB within seven days. The handover ceremony took place at the RSB office in Kicukiro.

Since its creation in 2002, RSB has been providing key services to enhance the competitiveness of Rwandan products, fair trade and consumer protection, such as quality assurance through industry inspection and testing. Recognizing this, USAID, through TradeMark Africa (TMA), funded the acquisition of testing equipment that is used to assess the purity of Rwanda’s key export products.

Speaking at the official handover ceremony, Mr. Raymond Murenzi, Acting Director General of RSB stated that
“Exports are critical to reducing Rwanda’s trade deficit, yet until recently RSB had limited capacity to test products for micronutrients and heavy metal traces. Testing for heavy metal traces was taking approximately 60 days when sent abroad, causing significant delays in the supply chain, and increasing the costs of exports. Now, the testing will be completed by RSB within seven days.” For example, in June 2014, Rwanda was added to the list of countries allowed to export honey to the European Union. The equipment will facilitate regular testing of heavy metals in honey.

The USAID Mission Director Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe noted, “This event highlights USAID’s contribution to
Rwanda’s efforts to increase trade by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of product testing in order to reduce testing costs and ultimately improve Rwanda’s export competitiveness.”

TMA Country Director Patience Mutesi commented that “In June 2014, Rwanda was added to the list of countries allowed to export honey to the European Union. We are optimistic that the equipment will facilitate regular testing of heavy metals in honey thus helping businesses increase their competitiveness and access to new markets.”

The provision of this testing equipment is part of a larger partnership between USAID and TMA that aims to
increase trade through the reduction of trade barriers and enhance the competitiveness of Rwandan products and firms.

 

TradeMark Africa (TMA) is an aid-for-trade organisation that was established with the aim of growing prosperity in East Africa through increased trade. TradeMark Africa (TMA) operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by the development agencies of the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. TradeMark Africa (TMA) works closely with East African Community (EAC) institutions, national governments, the private sector and civil society organisations.