The Minister for Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye (2nd right) and other officials open Made-in-Rwanda Expo 2018 at Gikondo Expo Grounds.

The number of exhibitors at the annual Made-in-Rwanda Expo has increased by 86 per cent in the past four years with about 460 exhibitors showcasing locally made products this year.

The 2018 expo, which is the fourth edition of the show, was officially launched yesterday at the Gikondo Expo Grounds.

Organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the exhibition aims at promoting locally made products by encouraging more local producers to showcase their products to a wider market.

According to PSF, the number of exhibitors has gradually increased from 260 exhibitors in 2015 during the inaugural edition to 306 exhibitors in 2016, while in 2017, 427 exhibitors registered and showcased their products.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the expo, Trade and Industry minister, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, said the growing number has been due to the efforts made in changing the mindset of consumers and producers toward embracing locally made products.

She said, “This is an indication that the awareness efforts are bearing fruits.”

“We shall sustain these efforts so that as many people can proudly buy Made-in-Rwanda products as well as push local producers to increase and avail quality products,” she said, adding that they will continue devising appropriate measures to promote local industries.

With these efforts, Hakuziyaremye said she was confident the initiative will boost the economy and play a major role in reducing the country’s trade deficit.

Narrow trade deficit

The Made-in-Rwanda initiative is expected to significantly narrow the trade deficit by almost 450 million dollars annually in the next five years.

“The Government of Rwanda will continue to support the investments in manufacturing sector by availing special services in dedicated industrial zones, especially in secondary cities,” she promised.

While the number of exhibitors and people coming up to the expo is increasing year after year, Stephen Ruzibiza, the chief executive of PSF, believes that promoting locally made products at the global stage will reduce the country’s burden of relying on imports while promoting local brands.

“The Made-in-Rwanda initiative can’t be successful without the support of the private sector,” he said.

He, however, said that more efforts on awareness and ease of maintaining businesses are of paramount importance in the process of economic transformation.

“It would ultimately result in the public changing their mindset on purchasing foreign products, thus improving our trade balance and the ultimate goal of equitable and inclusive growth.”

Ange Tricia Niyonshuti, of Iga Publishers, a publishing house of storybooks for children who is exhibiting at the expo, said that besides the growing number of exhibitors, the number of expo goers has also significantly grown.

She said that this only offers them the challenge to continue improving on the quality of what they produce, adding that local manufacturers have proven that they have what it takes to produce quality products.

“Since the first time I came to showcase these story books, I realised that the number of people coming to the expo is going up. This indicates that Rwandans have the capacity to do things that can compete on the market. With the efforts being put in to change people’s mindset, the future is bright for local manufacturers,” said Niyonshuti, wife to local musician Thomas Muyombo, popularly known as Tom Close.

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