14 February 2018

Rwanda: Legislators Call for More Efforts to Facilitate Manufacturing Sector

Photo: Timothy Kisambira/The New Times
A worker at textile industry factory.

As the country's industries continue to grow, government should move swiftly to facilitate them by solving issues related to low electricity supply and lack of raw materials needed to run them.

The recommendation was made by legislators in the Lower House on Tuesday after members of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade presented their report about their tour of the country to assess the state of industries.

During their field trip, which was conducted between late November and early December last year, the MPs toured all districts around the country, where they visited different types of industries.

They include agro-processing plants, animal feeds plants, pharmaceutical plants, pesticides factories, food processing plants, construction equipment plants, and those that make laboratory equipment.

They also visited Prime Economic Zone Limited, the managers of Kigali Special Economic Zone, to assess the challenges that they face.

The MPs noted that industries lack enough electricity, whereby some stop operations in the middle of activities when power is cut off while others find the price of electricity high.

There is also a disconnect between Rwandan raw materials' producers and industries, a gap that the lawmakers want the Ministry of Local Government to close by sensitising citizens to grow crops and make materials that local industries need to use as well as link farmers' cooperatives to industrialists.

MP Adolphe Bazatoha, the Chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy and Trade, said that the country's industrialisation remains in its infant stage and should be facilitated if it is to grow.

"The industry sector is growing at a significant rate and there are many initiatives that are promising. What is needed now is to combine strategies to solve problems that the sector is faced with so it can continue to develop," he said.

In their recommendations, the MPs tasked the Ministry of Infrastructure to solve the issue of low supply of electricity for industries, explaining that the country can't afford to develop without a vibrant industrial sector.

MP Gabriel Semasaka said that industries should be empowered to produce to the full of their capacities because at the moment they aren't doing it due to many challenges that include lack of electricity and lack of raw materials.

"Given what we have been told and what we know from the field, we wonder whether our industries are ready to produce to their capacities and help fast-track the country's development. There is a big problem with developing our country through industrialisation and we can hardly realise Made-in-Rwanda plans with the current situation of our industries," he said.

MP Fortunée Nyiramadirida urged the Government to further boost the industrial sector, describing it as the next hope for employment among many Rwandans.

"It would be a big problem if our industries can't operate while they constitute hope for employment for many Rwandans. We need to task the institutions in charge of industries to solve their problems in order to pave way for further investments in the sector," she said.

During the 3rd quarter of 2017, whose results were published in December by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), the industry sector contributed 16 per cent to the country's GDP growth, which remains lower in comparison to 47 and 30 per cent contributed to the national economy by the service sector and the agriculture sector respectively.

Many legislators, including MP Ignacienne Nyirarukundo, encouraged the Government to keep strategising for the development of the industrial sector because it remains critical for the country to achieve her development goals.

Regarding electricity challenges, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Vincent Munyeshyaka, told MPs on the committee that his ministry has discussed the issue with the Ministry of Infrastructure and that they agreed that the electricity network is old and requires to be replaced, a process that is underway.

Meeting the MPs last month, the minister also said that Government was trying to make sure that each industrial area has its own specific electricity package so that factories have enough power to function as required.

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