The New Times (Kigali)

8 March 2013

Rwanda: Business Dwindles As Vote Counting Continues

As vote counting continues in the just-concluded elections in Kenya, Rwandan business community has already started counting losses over the simmering uncertainty.

Businesspersons in Kigali and Mombasa, who spoke to The New Times, said they were still in fear over their businesses, saying they are praying for a peaceful post-election.

The fears are premised on the experience in 2007, when people's merchandise was destroyed in a post-election violence that claimed more than 1,300 lives.

The chairperson of Rwanda exporters Association, Janet Nkubana, said traders who had imported cargo through Mombasa port are wary of transporting their goods due to the continued uncertainty.

The election has largely been peaceful as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) continues the tallying process.

The previous post-election violence left Ugandan and Rwandan traders in heavy losses as their goods worth over $47.5m (about Rwf306.1b) were destroyed.

"The trade inflow has slowed. Some goods had arrived at the Mombasa port and owners decided to keep them there and this is a challenge because the more you delay at the port the more charges you incur," Nkubana said.

The regularly imported products through Mombasa are raw materials, finished goods, food, and crude oil and others, while the region exports tea, coffee, sisal to Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Aimable Muhinda, the country manager of Kampala Coach, a regional transport company that commutes between Kigali and Nairobi via Kampala, also said the polls delay has affected their business as the number of passengers has reduced.

The tallying process was delayed because of the breakdown in the electronic system and the commission resorted to a manual procedure.

The commission is expected to announce the final results today.

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