Rwandan products must be known for quality, says PM

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi (C), Trade and Industry minister Francois Kanimba (2nd R) and Private Sector Federation chairperson Benjamin Gasamagera visit one of the stands during the official opening of the 20th Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Expo Grounds yesterday. Murekezi said the quality, reliability and safety of Made-in-Rwanda products will go a long way in ensuring its success on the local and international markets. Nadege Imbabazi.

Quality, reliability and safety of locally -made products will go a long way in ensuring success of Made-in-Rwanda campaign on the local and international market, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has said.

Murekezi said this at the official opening of the 20th Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Expo Grounds yesterday.

“We want Rwandan products to be known at home and abroad for their quality, reliability and safety,” Murekezi said.

R-L: Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive of Rwanda Development Board; Trade and Industry minister Francois Kanimba; Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi; PSF chairperson Benjamin Gasamagera; and Claver Mugabo, PSF vice chairperson cut the cake to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda International Trade Fair at the Expo Grounds in Gikondo on Thursday. Nadege Imbabazi.

The premier said Rwanda is moving “steadily” toward achieving the call for high-quality produce by boosting institutional set up for standards training and certification, and “stricter” enforcement of consumer protection.

He said private sector partnership is key to increasing awareness, understanding and appreciation of importance of standards.

Over 500 local and international exhibitors (from Europe, Asia and across the continent) are participating in this year’s trade fair. Some 136 exhibitors are foreign businesses.

Murekezi urged local and regional producers to ensure value-addition and quality of their products if they seek to share a significant portion of the buyers’ network on the global scale.

“Most African economies still depend heavily on production and export of raw materials and unprocessed commodities, too little value addition and few forward and backward linkages to other sectors of the economy,” the premier said.

Stephen Ruzibiza, the PSF chief executive, speaks during the official opening of the 20th Rwanda International Trade Fair at Expo Grounds in Gikondo yesterday. Nadege Imbabazi.

“Attending trade fairs like this tells us that, as African countries, we need to increase value addition, extract higher rents from commodities and to better integrate into the global value chains.”

Stephen Ruzibiza, the Private Sector Federation chief executive, said that through resilience, the Rwanda International Trade Fair has achieved an important milestone in clocking 20 years of a journey of progress, resilience and pride.

Masamba Intore and his Gakondo Group entertain guests during the official opening of the 2017 expo in Gikondo yesterday. Nadege Imbabazi

The trade fair was first held in 1997.

“We are not only cerebrating the 20th expo anniversary, but also the private sector growth in all sectors. Sectors like tourism (hotels), construction, transport services, financial institutions, manufacturing have greatly contributed to the economic progress of this nation,” he said.

The steady growth of these sectors, Ruzibiza added, concurrently led to increase of both exhibitors and visitors, hence the urge to have new premises that were convenient and accommodative to exhibitors.

That’s how the expo even moved from places like St Andre school, to Petit Stade Remera, and, in 2006, to Gikondo.

“When the event was moved here in 2006, the place was considered most convenient, spacious and no one thought it could be this small. The smallness of the place today is a testimony and evidence of private sector growth in Rwanda,” Ruzibiza said.

Showgoers at the 2017 Rwanda International Trade Fair at Gikondo Expo Ground yesterday. Nadege Imbabazi

Achievements from Expo

Benjamim Gasamagera, the PSF chairperson, said the expo has facilitated strategic investments into the country, linked Rwandan businesses to external markets through new distribution channels and also helped to promote Rwandan made products for international buyers.

The expo has also evolved into an event that puts a face of entertainment and shopping for Rwandan consumers.

“Over the years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number and variety of participation in the annual international trade expo, from 80 in 1997 to 440 participants in 2016,” he said.

The exhibitors have been coming from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. This year we have 275 local exhibitors and 136 foreign exhibitors from a total of 17 countries,” Gasamagera added.

These 20 years have not been without challenges, Gasamagera admitted, some of which have been solved along the way while others are pending.

However, he said, the biggest challenge now is not having permanent structures for exhibitors, hence having to construct temporary ones that take a lot of time and money for the exhibitors.

“Private Sector Federation runs with self-generated funds and through financial syndication is planning to construct a permanent expo ground complete with permanent structures at Gahanga, within the next two years,” Gasamagera said.

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