Trademark East Africa has aligned its programmes to support Rwanda’s government priority of increasing private sector productivity to speed up economic growth and create 214,000 jobs annually.
Rwanda derives its competitive advantage from its land links and position at the heart of Africa, connecting it to the Eastern and Central Africa. The country lays 1,661km away from the port of Mombasa and 1,281km away from the port of Dar-Es-Salaam and is a promising dry land logistics centre if physical infrastructure is developed and trade processes are improved through digitisation, according to TMEA latest annual report.
Last year, TMEA focused on improving trade logistics by enhancing transport mechanisms on Lake Kivu, cross-border trade between Rwanda and her neighbours-particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo.
TMEA programmes also focused on facilitating industrial growth through the development of trade and logistics clusters, improving trade processes, informing and strengthening trade policy, building stronger export capacity in sectors with high potential, facilitating greater inclusion of women in trade, and mainstreaming climate change in programming.
“We continued digitisation of key trade processes and believe this will contribute to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of trips by traders to process documents and decongest borders through faster crossing of trucks,” Patience Mutesi, Country Director said in TMEA’s last year annual report.
The aid agency, in partnership with Rwanda Transport Development Authority (RTDA), started Lake Kivu Water Transport Project to build ports on Lake Kivu at Rubavu, Rusizi, Karongi and Rutsiro Districts. Additional investment of US$5 million was secured from Netherlands Entreprise Agency (RVO) because of TMEA’s initiative.
Upgrade of Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) laboratory information management system (LIMS) was started, according to the annual report, and a prototype developed which is undergoing trials. LIMS will reduce paperwork and trips made by producers to RSB, therefore reducing costs.
Automation of processes to make customs proactive were completed. They include: Advance ruling module, Authorised Economic Operators, advance passenger information (API) and Rwanda Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS).
The cargo and passenger ports will support growth of trade, maritime transport and tourism around the lake. Rubavu and Rusizi Districts are next to the busiest border crossings between Rwanda and DRC and represent about 70% of Rwanda’s total cross-border trade volumes.
“The ports will provide the transport infrastructure needed to increase cross border trade between the two countries. The transaction advisory services on the project will help attract private sector investment in ferry operations, and establish the right legal, regulatory and institutional framework to increase activity on the lake,” Mutesi said.
According to the Planning Division Manager at RTDA, Fabrice Barisanga, once complete, the three major ports will reach 2.8 million passengers by 2036. The smaller Nkora Port in Rustiro will start with 400,000 passengers by 2036. The ports will be built to handle between 270,000 tonnes and 580,000 tonnes of cargo.
Improvement of the ports will reduce cargo and passenger transport costs with projections showing a 55% reduction in cargo transport between Rubavu and Rusizi from US$28.4 per metric tonne by 2023. It will also lead to a 43% reduction from US$10.6 per metric tonne to US$6 per metric tonne by 2023 between Rubavu and Karongi.
Passengers using the Rubavu-Karongi route will enjoy a 75% drop in cost from US$5.5 to US$1.4 per person and a 74% reduction from US$12 to US$3.1 for Rusizi and Rubavu route passengers. Investing in tourism-based activities along Lake Kivu also hold economic potential.