What to expect at the forthcoming Made-in-Rwanda annual exhibition

Bikes assembled in Rwanda cost between Rwf1.2m and Rwf3m. / Courtesy.

Showgoers should expect better and innovative products at the forthcoming Made-in-Rwanda exhibition later this month, Private Sector Federation (PSF) has said.

Eric Kabeera, the head of communications and marketing at PSF, said a number of new and ‘big’ exhibitors, including manufacturers of products like computers, motorcycles, and innovative housing solutions, have already registered for the annual expo. The Made-in-Rwanda expo targets local manufacturers and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs), including cottage industries.

“For instance, Rwanda Motorcycle Company will exhibit affordable sports motorcycles that go for about Rwf3 million compared Rwf8 million if one is to import the same type of bikes,” he said.

Kabeera added that STRAWTEC, which makes building materials from compressed agricultural waste like rice and wheat stalks, is one of the exhibitors that will showcase low-cost housing solutions and building materials.

“The firm’s products are affordable, eco-friendly and ensure sustainable housing solutions,” Kabeera said in an interview with The New Times over the weekend.

“Previously, people used to think about Made-in-Rwanda products in terms of handicrafts. But through continuous sensitisation and outreaches, Rwandans have increasingly come to appreciate locally-made goods,” he said.

The year will mark the fourth edition of the annual Made-in- Rwanda trade fair that is slated for November 29 to December 5 at the Gikondo expo ground in Kicukiro.

Supporting manufacturers

Emile Nsanzabaganwa, the chief executive officer of Kinazi Cassava Plant, said the Made-in-Rwanda exhibition gives manufacturers a platform to showcase their products to the Rwandan people. He added that it is crucial to market and promote local businesses and hence support market entry,” he said.

“It’s also a time to come together and share experience and information, as well as network and try to find ways to address challenges faced by businesses especially industrialists and SMEs,” he added.

Alice Twizeye, the director of internal trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the Made-in-Rwanda initiative will help open new markets for local products in the region and elsewhere as it promotes quality.

Nsanzabaganwa said the local industrial sector is still young and requires more support from government to address some of the barriers its faces to be competitive on the local and international markets.

He applauded government’s efforts to set up the Export Growth Fund to promote local products and ease market accessibility in other countries. The fund is handled by Rwanda Development Bank and helps export-oriented firms across sectors to enter the global market and also operate competitively.

Nsanzabaganwa added that the Ministry of Trade and industry is helping manufacturers to solve challenges like packaging.

Why buy local

According to PSF, promoting Rwandan products will “grow our economy and create more employment opportunities, as well as boost export of locally-produced goods.”

Kabeera said it also boosts domestic production and promotes local investment besides helping to make Rwandan goods more competitive on the local, regional and international markets.

“However, it’s essential that local manufacturers embrace branding and market their products to compete favourably,” he added.

Preparedness

So far, over 400 exhibitors have registered to participate in the expo compared to 305 firms last year, Kabeera said. Registration deadline is this week on November 12. PSF targets more than 50,000 showgoers for the one-week Made-in-Rwanda exhibition that ends in the first week of December.