Kigali — Rwanda's Prime Minister, Dr. Pierre Habumuremyi has called for the promotion of vocational studies to develop the country's industry sector.
While closing the 2012 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) trade fair at Gikondo grounds, Habumuremyi urged exhibitors to promote the use of hands on skills to improve output.
"The beautiful furniture, arts and craft, paintings shows how skilled Rwandan hands are. But we need to focus more on skills that make Rwanda products competitive in the regional market," remarked Habumuremyi after visiting the stands.
The week long TVET expo was the second ever to be organized by the Private Sector Federation (PSF) and Work Development Authority (WDA) aimed at promoting technical skills among Rwandan youth.
"He who owns skilled hands will never go hungry because they are a key avenue to job creation," added Habumuremyi.
However many exhibitors attributed the low sales to the competition from cheap Chinese products.
Dorkus Uwicyeza of cooperative Shikama Ukore one of the exhibitors said, "We have very beautiful items but the market is very small locally and we need help to seek more out of Rwanda."
An average Rwandan garment costs between 10, 000 francs and RWF15000 but this is quite expensive to an average Rwandan with opportunities to buy cheaper second hand clothes and those for Chinese textiles.
"Our members have to find ways of countering second hand and Chinese clothes that are cheaper compared to our first class products," said Paulin Rugiro, the vice president of the Association of Rwandan tailors.
"This ensures we have an expensive end product yet very few are willing to pay the price," said Faustin Nzeiyimaana, a carpenter based in Musanze district in Rwanda's Northern Province.
In the vocational technical field, foreigners continue to preside over affairs but both CEO Hannington Namara and his Chairman, Faustin Mbundu agree that with close partnership with Government, Rwanda has potential to head the region in hair dressing, mechanics and hospitality business.
According to Didier Munezro, the Director of Partnership Development at WDA, RWF10 Billion has been invested in Infrastructure & Equipment, among others since 2010.
Donatien Mungwarareba, PSF's Director for Member services says over the years, 108 projects have been facilitated to get loans of Rwf10Million among others.