RWANDA – African Solutions Private Ltd (Afrisol), a Zimbabwean firm which has been investing in Rwanda over the past two years, has bought off the 98.3% shareholding in Burera Diary Limited from the Rwanda Government.

Mid last year the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), put three government owned companies up for sale, calling for expression of interest by private players in its efforts of promoting efficiencies in the agribusiness companies.

Burera Diary Ltd was one of three public firms, alongside Nyabihu Potato Company and Rutsiro Honey Ltd.

Sources say that the firm was sold at around Rwf 270 million (US$290,000). None of the parties involved agreed to disclose the figure.

Afrisol have indicated that they intend to boost the milk-processing industry and buy milk from farmers, train them on best practices, as well as work with farmers in availing animal, feeds to boost productivity in both quality and quantity.

“Over the next five years, we intend to inject Rwf1.6 billion (US$1.6m) which will be split between capital expenditure to increase capacity and introduce new products into the market as well as working capital to secure raw materials and supporting farmers,” said Ruvimbo Chikwava, the Chief Executive Officer of Afrisol.

Operations are expected to begin in February with some products expected to hit the market thereafter. More products are expected to debut the market over time to be traded under ‘Burera Diary’ brand name.

The plant will have the daily capacity to process 10,000 liters of milk into various finished products such as soft and hard cheese, yogurt, long-life milk, butter, ice cream as well as fermented milk.

Afrisol’s othe business in Rwanda based in Rwamagana Industrial Park is involved in animal feed production and technical farmer support and training.

The firm said that the services and products will be extended to farmers in Burera District thus they will avail feeds to farmers upfront to increase the productivity and quality of their produce.

With six milk collection centres in the area, the firm said that they will prioritise produce from the area before buying from other parts of the country.

Officiating at the handover, Claire Mukeshimana, the acting Director-General of Rwanda Industrial Development Agency (NIRDA) said that it was a bold move to have the factory privatized as it would improve efficiency and productivity of the factory.

“We expect the new company to boost milk processing industry. It will surely create more jobs and improve lives of smallholder farmers who will sell milk production at better price,” she said.

The acquisition is a huge relief to farmers in the area as the firm has been marred by various challenges, which have led to the halting of operations, hurting the fortunes of dairy farmers in the region.

“Multiple firms expressed interest, only two were shortlisted. Afrisol has committed to operationalise the dairy, support milk collection centers, develop technical skills to its employees as well as to the farmers that will be supplying milk to the factory,” said Claire.