A new arrangement between RwandAir and Ethiopian Airlines to facilitate exports to Congo Brazzaville has been launched, allowing Rwandans to export 30 tons per week.
“This is in line with the government’s commitment to increase the volume of exports to fill the gap with imports,” said Industry and Trade minister Francois Kanimba.
Until the official launch of the first Ethiopian cargo flight between Kigali and Brazza on Monday, Rwandan exporters had great difficulties to get their wares to Congo, despite a trade mission to the country two years ago which revealed a potential market for commodities such as fruits, vegetables, meat, flour and milk, among others.
Initially, the exporters could make use of RwandAir flights to the central African country, but a sharp increase of passengers made that no longer a viable option.
“That’s why we negotiated with other companies having cargo and concluded a deal with Ethiopian,” Kanimba explained, adding that for now a capacity of 30 tons per week is available which can be increased to 60 tons.
He clarified that the ministry’s role is just one of facilitating transport, and that it is now up to the business communities in both countries to set up trade. A similar scheme is envisages for Gabon, which has also received a Rwandan business delegation, while further down the line Turkey, Qatar and other parts of the Middle East are to be explored.
Kanimba expressed the hope that such measures will help rectify the trade imbalance; last year, imports were valued at US$ 2.2 billion against US$ 800 million of exports.
“We really still have a long way to go to balance exports and imports, but that’s our priority,” the Minister said. “We are committed to increase our exports at least by 28% every year in the second phase of EDPRS. This is a big target, but experience from the recent past in expanding our markets indicates that it can be achieved. The remaining concern is to entice Rwandans to work hard so that we can get enough production for export.”