Rwanda presents opportunities for local products

24 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Rwanda presents opportunities for local products Mr Allan Majuru

The Sunday Mail

Trade Focus

Allan Majuru

THROUGH sustained efforts to cultivate robust relationships and capitalise on emerging opportunities, Zimbabwe is poised to further enhance its economic footprint on the African continent.

In recent years, the country has been strengthening ties with its African counterparts, recognising the immense potential for economic cooperation and trade within the continent.

This proactive approach to diplomacy has manifested in the growing interest in doing business in Zimbabwe.

A prime example is the burgeoning trade between Harare and Kigali, where local products and services are finding a receptive market in the Central African market.

Through concerted efforts to foster closer ties and explore avenues for collaboration, Zimbabwe has effectively tapped into Rwanda’s growing market demand.

This development signifies not only deepening bilateral relations but also the country’s commitment to leverage on intra-African trade for mutual benefit.

Zimbabwe and Rwanda are members of regional economic communities such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), respectively, which offer additional avenues for trade and cooperation. By leveraging on these regional platforms, both countries can tap into larger markets, benefit from regional value chains and harmonise trade policies to foster seamless integration and facilitate cross-border trade.

To further strengthen business links between the private sector in the two countries, ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion agency, together with the Rwanda Development Board, organised the Third Rwanda-Zimbabwe Business Forum that took place in Kigali from March 18 to 20.

Serving as a platform for the local private sector to interact with potential partners in Rwanda, the forum facilitated dialogue, networking and exploration of business opportunities.

Since the inaugural forum in 2021, the initiative has played a crucial role in fostering synergies between businesses in both countries, paving the way for fruitful partnerships and investment ventures.

This year, engagements at the forum revealed export opportunities for Zimbabwean businesses across all sectors.

The low-hanging fruits are in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and services (for example, education).

Opportunities

With its rapid transformation and business-friendly environment, Rwanda presents a promising market for Zimbabwean exports.

With a population of over 12 million people and a growing middle class, there is rising demand for various goods and services, ranging from agricultural products to manufactured goods.

Zimbabwe, with its abundance of resources including minerals, agricultural produce and skilled labour, is poised to capitalise on this emerging market.

For example, the agriculture sector holds immense potential for export to Rwanda, both in terms of supply and partnerships.

Zimbabwe has over four million hectares of arable land than Rwanda, which has around 1,6 million ha.

The terrain in Rwanda is also mountainous, making it difficult to establish large-scale irrigation systems.

This creates opportunities for local players. Commodities such as maize, wheat and soya beans, along with products like tobacco and coffee, can find a ready and receptive market in Rwanda, where demand for high-quality agricultural produce is growing.

While Zimbabwe can produce more, there are areas in which local producers can benefit from partnerships.

For example, Rwanda has carved a niche in the global chilli market and its volumes continue to rise.

It has been able to establish markets in China, Europe and the Middle East.

So, there is scope for local chilli producers to explore out-grower partnerships.

Further, Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector has the capacity to produce a variety of goods, ranging from textiles and clothing to machinery and electronic gadgets.

By tapping into Rwanda’s consumer market and industrial ambitions, local manufacturers can find new avenues for export and investment, bolstering both countries’ economies in the process.

For example, there are gaps in supplying furniture to Rwanda, as most of the distributors are sourcing it from distant Asian countries such as Turkey and China.

However, the quality of these products is lower than the furniture produced in Zimbabwe. As such, there is room for furniture producers to capitalise on this development.

Zimbabwe produces high-end furniture that can compete in the Rwandan market.

But given the bulky nature of furniture products, local manufacturers should move away from exporting assembled products to producing collapsible modular designs that can be easily assembled at the final market or by the end user.

This will ensure that the cost per unit in production and transportation is cheaper.

In addition, Zimbabwe boasts abundant timber resources in the form of high-quality hardwoods such as teak and mukwa.

These are used in coming up with most of the highly sought-after and luxury furniture products that fetch higher prices in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe also has much to offer in terms of services and expertise.

With a well-educated workforce skilled in areas such as finance, engineering and information technology, Zimbabwean professionals can provide valuable services to Rwanda’s growing economy, whether through consultancy, training or project management.

Riding on Zimbabwe’s stellar academic reputation and high literacy rate, there are opportunities in the education sector, with easy wins in the export of study programmes and distance learning.

Rwanda is a former French-speaking Belgian colony but the drive for more foreign investment has seen its government looking to align more with English.

There is, therefore, demand for English teachers, as well as tutors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Zimbabwe already has a huge pool of qualified professionals who can satisfy these demands.

 

Allan Majuru is the chief executive officer of ZimTrade.

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