The ministry of trade and industry (Minicom) and its partners have been blamed for the failures in implementing the Community Processing Center (CPC), which were supposed to spur Rwanda’s industrial growth at district level.
The CPC program was initiated in 2013, with over Rwf4.1 billion invested in six pilot centers to largely purchase land, equipment and construct the structures.
The government intended to start-up CPC and later hand them over to the private sector.
Partners included the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA), later on joined by Business Development Fund (BDF) and Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
The pilot six CPCs include a leather CPC in Gatsibo, Irish potato product CPC in Nyabihu, banana wine CPC in Rwamagana district, Diary CPC in Burera district, honey and ceramics CPCs for Rutsiro and Nyanza districts respectively.
In a parliament hearing today, the Minister of Trade and Industry (Minicom) Béata U. Habyarimana was summoned to explain why this has not happened but led to government losing over 4.8billion.
The Public Accounts Committee which followed up on the accountability of the CPC program showed parliament that the government losses were mainly caused by lack of feasibility studies, monitoring and collaboration on top of unproductive equipment.
The committee also showed that most of the CPCs don’t have a marketing strategy, action plan and when they were initiated, most of them collapsed immediately due to lack of production capacity while others took up to three years without functioning.
For instance in the Rwamagana CPC, MP learnt that it was operating at 1% and the banana wine is processed manually.
The report also showed that Irish potato CPC in Nyabihu purchased packaging equipment (Rwf22.9 million) for 40 tons of crisps to be sold in four years, but only 19tons were packaged, rendering the packaging material useless after a four year expiry date.
Despite the high demand of shoes in Rwanda (according to the EAC data), the parliament report also showed that Gatsibo leather CPC had manual shoe manufacturing equipment, just a donation.
In her explanation Minister Habyarimana said that it is true the above reasons were generally central in the failure of CPC countrywide but action and lessons have been learnt while some officials have either been fired and others prosecuted in a bid to refund the lost investment of which so far 11million has been recovered.
“It is true there was no planning or feasibility studies done, though we based these activities on the SME cluster booklet, we were reluctant to have dialogue with other organs but focused on value chains instead of the economic value,” Habyarimana said.
The minister said that shareholding has been done between BDF, NIRDA, districts and Cooperatives and three of the CPCs have since been privatized while individual CPC issues are also being handled, however confessed to failure to monitor the projects.
“That is why there were mistakes including buying non-functional equipment but we now have a permanent staff to follow up CPC activities and we also have a marketing strategy and improved our relation with BDF,” the minister said.
The minister also said that some officials including a Spaniard national have been prosecuted, penalized for the poor implementation of which Rwf66M is yet to be recovered from the Spanish expert who didn’t deliver in the project implementation is yet to
This raised many questions among MPs who wondered if the country can attain its intended goals of industrialization, made in Rwanda goals and many more questions on the leadership behind the CPC program.
“How do you even, in the first case, start a project without a feasibility study? Then you go ahead to post officials to assist when something has failed. Why didn’t you do this in the beginning?” asked MP Benoit Senani.
MP Damien Nyabyenda said that the root cause of the above failures was simply because of lack of feasibility studies and he asked that the ministry explain in writing why this happened so.
However MPs Madina Ndangiza, Veneranda Nyirahirwa and Aimée Sandrine Uwambaje insisted that Minicom should in writing, present a road map, and indicate the amount of losses, what happened and who is responsible, as a way forward.