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Private Sector Federation chief executive Stephen Ruzibiza addresses delegates at the launch of the National Business Forum. Photo: Sam Ngendahimana.

The chief executive of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Clare Akamanzi, has challenged local entrepreneurs to improve the competitiveness of their products, arguing that for a product to be made in Rwanda is not enough for people to buy it.

She was speaking in Kigali on Tuesday at the inaugural National Business Forum (NBF) organised by Private Sector Federation.

“Would a person buy a product made in Rwanda, just because it is made in Rwanda? Definitely no! We derive a lot of pride in being able to make things in Rwanda and to be able to live those goals in the country… it is a source of a lot of pride. But when it comes to quality, patriotism is not enough,” she said.

Akamanzi further explained that the products to be branded nationally and internationally, they should be competitive in terms of quality and standards.

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Agriculture Export Development Board (NAEB), Bill Kayonga, explained that quality and consistency should go hand in hand.

“Out there, Rwanda has become increasingly associated with quality, getting things done, having a clean environment. In whatever we do, we really have to focus on quality. And there are quite a number of factors that also determine that.”

At the market out there, he explained, consumers want consistency in the production of quality.

Among other topics, the NBF discussions revolved around raising the competitiveness of local products, mindset change, building the brand for locally manufactured products as well as investing in research, development and innovation for sustainable economic gains.

According to the CEO of Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, Made-in-Rwanda products should be defined by high quality.

“Rwandan products should be known for their quality, reliability and durability at both domestic and international markets. It is, therefore, important that the product-reality reflects expectations on quality.”

According to Ruzibiza, 98 per cent of local firms are SMEs, and a firm that started in 2010 only had a 24 per cent chance of surviving until 2014.

However, he said, Rwanda is among the top 100 most competitive nations in the world, citing the 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum.

“Central focus should be on reducing the cost of production, skills development and labour productivity, special economic zones growth, access to finance, improve access to factors of production, and streamlining logistics,” he said.

The Minister for Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, promised the private sector more support from the Government.

“The Government of Rwanda will continue to support local industries,” she said. “New policies such as the Entrepreneurship Development Policy and the Industrial Policy are being developed to accelerate investments of industries producing Made in Rwanda.”

The NBF will be held annually.

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