Rwanda’s locally made products will dominate this year’s International trade fair as the country is struggling to offset its widening trade deficit.
According to private sector Federation-PSF, the 15-day trade fair which begins Wednesday will provide an opportunity for SMEs to exhibit their products and share expertise as well as make sales.
The trade fair will be held at Gikondo Expo ground. About 271 local exhibitors and 148 foreigners from 17 countries of Africa, Europe and Asia are expected.
In 2015, the expo attracted 408 exhibitors including 266 Rwandans and 142 foreigners.
“We are encouraging Rwandans to buy products made from here. Our products meet both quality and quantity standards,” said Stephen Ruzibiza, Chief Executive Officer of Private Sector Federation.
Ruzibiza said most of fast moving goods, home decors, light machinery and processed foods will be showcased by local companies as opposed to previous expos that were dominated by foreign goods.
The Ministry of trade and industry statistics indicate that small scale Enterprises-SMEs comprise of 98% of the businesses in the country, as well as 41 percent of all private sector employment.
“We are giving a chance to local producers to network and learn from each other especially in technology transfer, activating business ideas and eventually lead to innovation in investment,” Ruzibiza said.
In 2014, government launched the Made in Rwanda campaign to boost consumption of locally made products; enhance quality standards, branding and packaging along the value chain.
The Buy Local –Twigire’ initiative which was reignited this year has seen local SMEs targeted by government to improve innovation/creativity in the competitive international market. The bottom-line was to bridge trade deficit.
Central Bank indicates that import and export bills continued to deteriorate by 11.0 percent to U$752.62 million in the first five months of 2016 from U$677.85 million in the same period in 2015.
Thus, government spends three dollars on an import compared to a dollar it gets from its export, with a trade deficit growing by 6.8 percent by the end of the first half of 2016.
“It’s a comprehensive campaign where we are targeting to change the mindset of our people towards consuming locally made products,” Francois Kanimba, Trade and industry minister told KT Press.
According to Yvette Mukarwema, the PSF’s COO this year, the trade fair will generate 3000 jobs compared to 1224 jobs last year.
In 2015, the expo attracted 408 exhibitors and 270,000 visitors.
According to organisers, foreign exhibitors are charged $1350 per stand, while local exhibitors will pay Rwf 450,000 and Exhibitors in the General trading area will be charged Rwf 202,500.
Meanwhile the high-end exhibitors including platinum sponsors have to fork out Rwf 25Million, Gold sponsors pay Rwf 15 million and Silver sponsors have to dig out Rwf 5million to pay for space.