RWANDA – TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has announced that it will be investing US$2.4 million (Rwf2.1 billion) in Rwanda to boost export sector including fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers, legumes and cereals, meat, eggs and dairy.

The proceeds will go into facilitating local business to raise the capacity to produce products that meet international standards for them to be favoured in the market, reports New Times.

The deal is part of the US$50 million memorandum of understanding between the Government of Rwanda and TMEA signed last year to improve the capacity of local businesses to export.

“The largest component of the funding will be used in providing support to exporting firms to increase their capacity to export.

This could be in the form of putting together export strategies, training them on the standards of the markets they export to, and market linkages where they will participate in sales and trade missions to key markets,” said Patience Mutesi, TMEA’s Country Director.

The deal will largely focus on increasing the export of non-traditional exports, commodities that were previously produced solely for domestic consumption and are seen as having the potential to drive the country’s exports.

According to TMEA, the programme will include a mix of interventions like on-firm advisory services and development of local export advisors through a training programme.

The programme which was initially set for two years complements the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s five-year trade and logistics clusters programme, which all looks to increase export-led manufacturing in the country.

It also supports, Rwanda’s National Export Strategy as the country targets to increase exports by 17% over the next seven years.

“Our research shows that some of the constraints faced by potential Rwandan exporters include weak export networks, inadequate exporting skills and low productivity of labour.

This programme will resolve some of these challenges,” said Mutesi.

The partnership comes when Rwanda is looking to reduce on import bills to consequently lower trade deficit.

Rwanda’s trade deficit narrowed by 2% in the first half of this year attributed to the growth of exports which rose to $463.16 million up from $375.91 million over the same period last year.

“The partnership with TradeMark East Africa could not have come at a better time. Supporting local exporters will increase employment opportunities for Rwandans while at the same time helping to reduce Rwanda’s trade deficit,” commented Emmanuel Hategeka, the Chief Operating Officer at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).