On Tuesday, September 25, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente and two ministers; Francis Kaboneka of local government and Vincent Munyeshaka of Trade and Industry were spotted in men’s African Print (Kitenge) shirts while on a working visit to Southern Province.
The trio who were visiting Huye district, were dressed in trousers not made in Rwanda but they looked smart in their Kitenge – attracting attention of many on social media.
At the time the three top government officials’ style made rounds on social media, it coincided with a one day-training of Rwandan journalists on the new ‘Made in Rwanda’ policy.
Organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the training aims at attracting media attention to promote locally made products.
In Huye, Premier Ngirente was in a short sleeve, collar brown and white block double pocket designer shirt. Minister Kaboneka wore a plain grey collar flower spiral long sleeve shirt, while Minister Munyeshaka was in a long sleeve top Summer Fashion shirt.
With this example, the Ministry of Trade and Industry now says that it is possible that this will become a policy at one point in future.
“Sure. We are working on a proposal to have monthly Made in Rwanda Day for all Rwandans to wear/consume made in Rwanda products!!” Minister Munyeshaka told KT Press on a twitter discourse on Thursday.
With a growing manufacturing industry, this means Rwandans will be able to take one day of dressing locally made products, ranging from clothes (kitenge), Mushanana (traditional ceremonial dress for women), shoes, sandals and T-shirts etc.
Senate President Bernard Makuza, is one of the Rwandan top officials who is known for putting on either a Kaunda suit or Kitenge.
While many would predict Makuza’s attires are ordered from Europe, the Senate President, in a surprising revelation, told KT Press that he buys his cloths from Rwanda and sometimes from west and Eastern Africa.
Makuza says that he will support the policy wholeheartedly because his choice of dressing African print clothes represents comfort, cleanliness and being African but the high prices associated to the products need to be addressed in the process of introducing Made-in-Rwanda day.
“Dressing in Rwandan products is a good idea but prices are extremely high. I think this can be made affordable by exemption of taxes on imports on Kitenge raw material and local manufacturers need to be realistic while fixing a selling price,” Makuza said.
Makuza also stated that Rwandan made leather shoes are comparatively affordable and equally long lasting in relation to the prices from imported shoes from Italy, as a result of availability of authentic natural hides and skin.
“I bought a Rwandan pair of shoes in 2006 or 2007 during a trade expo and I still have it till today and it serves all purposes. This is proof that local products are good,” Makuza revealed.
Citizens also say the made in Rwanda policy should be led by example starting with leaders.
“Good idea Hon. Let’s promote our values by consuming them from above!” said Samuel Mutungirehe responding to Minister’s statement.
If Rwanda moves to implement this policy, this could add on what civil servants in Ghana have already been doing for years. They are all required to put on Kitenge dress in office every working Friday of the week as a dress code.
Newly elected Member of Parliament and head of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), Frank Habineza said that his party is a strong supporter of Made in Rwanda, but also wants this to be extended to recycling of locally made products.
“We would definitely propose such a policy if it is not existing,” he told KT Press.
According to Habineza, “Made in Rwanda helps protect the environment, but we would also promote recycle and re-use – not just new products. Old products can also be recycled and re-used,” he said.