Roaming around Gikondo Expo Grounds on its last day of Made in Rwanda Expo instilled a nostalgic feeling.
Colorful booths and the smell of brochettes on discount and thanks to the Private Sector Federation (PSF), those garments with Made-in-Rwanda tags are not going anywhere, neither are the Rwandan-made smartphones.
In a couple of weeks, a similar exhibition is planned in Rubavu town in Western Province.
This year's edition was exciting. It crashed the old, groundless marriage of two concepts: Made in Rwanda and Kitenge (wax print), only-in-Rwanda handcrafts and Africa's-first electronics drove every visitor wild.
Best exhibitors awarded
For the best exhibitor award, the decision would be a no-brainer, even for anyone who only set foot at the expo. And evidently, PSF had the same observation when they pronounced Volkswagen Rwanda the Overall Best Exhibitor.
Cement maker CIMERWA came as the first runner-up followed by Blueflame, a kitchenware company that assembles ovens and cookers in Muhima, Kigali.
PSF also awarded the best exhibitors in sector categories.
Alex Woodhouse scooped the Arts and Crafts award while Real Contractors was recognized in furniture. Agropy in Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, as well as Sunpreme in construction, were awarded.
Megabit, a web hosting company outcompeted other ICT stands while IPRC Kigali was the best innovation exhibitor. In agro-processing, a Rubavu-base coffee company won the award. And from an aggressively tight contest among innumerable textile exhibitors emerged Supreme Garments a winner.
In addition to the exhibitors, PSF also rewarded its top three partners led by GIZ Rwanda, while recognizing the Eastern Province for sending most exhibitors.
Behind the awards
Found at the booth in the morning after the ceremony, Theophile Bizimana, a 3rd-year student and Innovation Club leader at IPRC Kigali believes that making unique technologies is the secret behind winning the innovation award (which indeed he had with him).
"Our projects are innovative. We have agro-processing industrial machines such as this one [pointing at a four-wheeled machine the size of a truck]. It is called Multipurpose Threshing Machine. The machine that costs Rwf 6 million, is built in five days and can thresh two tons of corn per hour.
The New Times also stopped by the best textile booth, Supreme Garments. The company saw 50 to 80 visitor-buyers every day for two weeks. They believe that a varied range of apparel such as shirts, sportswear, underwear and kids' clothes they even export to European and Chinese markets was a key factor for their win.
Made-in-Rwanda 2019 that officially opened November 22nd, registered 468 exhibitors -marking a slight increment from about 460 exhibitors last year. Even though until press time the overall survey has not been published, this year's edition received more visitors than 51,000 from last year, according to PSF.