Rwanda-based Alfa Holdings has started manufacturing cables in the country, joining 16 others firms in the region.
The $6 million greenfield cable plant at Kigali Special Economic Zone has a capacity to produce more than 600 tonnes of cables annually.
"We produce 50 tonnes, that is 1,000km of multi-core copper cables monthly, in eight hours a day. Our target is to double the production by working day and night," said Anita Mukandayisenga, the sales and marketing officer at Alfa.
The EAC has a 5,400-tonne deficit in cables annually. There are 11 cable companies in Kenya, four in Tanzania and two in Uganda.
Rwanda's cables needs were 760 tonnes in 2016. Given the boom in the real estate and continued investments in power generation and distribution, the demand is likely to surpass 800 tonnes this year.
Trading data from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) indicates that in 2016 the country's cable and aluminium import bill was $30.9 million, putting pressure on its foreign reserves.
With the domestic sourcing, market analysts say the prices of cables are set to drop by 25 per cent.
Low-priced cables from Asian countries have entered the market, even as standards bodies have intensified their crackdown to protect local manufacturers, jobs and consumers.
In May, two consignments of counterfeit cables stashed in 40-foot containers were impounded at Mombasa Port.
International cable and wire suppliers dominate the Rwanda market, controlling 89 per cent. Their cables are sourced from India, China, Turkey and Europe.
Rwanda sources 11 per cent of its cables from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The RDB trading data indicates that in 2016, Burundi's cable and wires import bill was $12.9 million while that of eastern DR Congo was $40.2 million.
"There is a large deficit between cable supply production and demand in the region, increasing by 275 tonnes per year," Alfa Holdings says.
Uganda, which has two plants - Cable Corporation Ltd owned by Mehta Group, and Hitech Metal Industries Ltd Uganda - also faces a shortage of cables.
Uganda's cable demand in 2016 was estimated to be about 1,600 tonnes per year, according to Alfa Holdings.
East Africa Cables, with offices in Kenya and Tanzania and distribution networks in Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan, is Alfa's biggest competitor.
Rwanda's factory builds low voltage cables of 230V to 750V with copper conductors and PVC insulation.
The other East African cable plants manufacture 1.1kV cables, using copper conductors.
Rwanda's neighbours including Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo also depend heavily on imported cables and wires.
These neighbours would provide ready market for Alfa Holdings.