The government of Rwanda and their counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo are set to start construction of RUSIZI II One Stop Border Post, which is anticipated to boost trade between the two countries.
The border connects the towns of Rusizi in Rwanda and Bukavu in DR Congo.
Officials from both countries held a meeting, on Monday November 29, to review the project progress as they prepare to lay a foundation stone for the construction this Tuesday.
Imena Munyampenda, the Director General of Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA) said that the facility will facilitate movement of goods and people between Rwanda and DR Congo and the Great Lakes Region in general.
The project was financed by the European Union in partnership with International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), will ensure Integrated Border Management (IBM).
"The construction will take 18 months and could start early 2022. We will construct warehouses and traders will not do double checking thanks to Integrated Border Management," he said.
He said procurement for the construction firm is going on.
"Now we are discussing issues that might be arising from the project implementation. We expect commercial activities to increase between Rwanda and DRC as market linkages are strengthened," he said.
While on the side of Rwanda studies have been completed and land secured, Marc Malago Kashekere, the Vice Governor of South Kivu Province said they are in the process of expropriating 266 households to pave the way for construction works.
"Materialisation of the project will boost economic development in DRC and reinforce economic integration," he noted.
Lluis Navarro, The Head of Cooperation at European Union Delegation to Rwanda said that promoting human mobility and economic integration between Rwanda and DRC will have a positive impact on the economy in the region.
"The EU supports regional integration. We see this project as fundamental to promote trade, human mobility and economic integration in the region particularly between Rwanda and DRC," adding this will boost African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He noted that the growing urban centres in the region are a tremendous opportunity for traders and businesses based in Rwanda, DRC and Burundi.
"As EU, we are keen on supporting efforts of African governments to enhance trade facilitation, reduce non-tariff barriers, harmonise standards, liberalise investments and services and increase movement of professionals. We are glad to support operationalization and implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)," he said.
He said EU has supported various projects in Rwanda including Kigali-Gatuna road, Kagitumba-Kayonza-Rusumo road funded by European Investment Bank.
Other projects, he said, include Rusizi 3 Hydropower plant among others benefitting three countries.
Fodé Ndiaye,the UN Resident Coordinator for Rwanda said that the increased trade between Rwanda and DRC should particularly improve the lives of youth and women doing cross border businesses on a daily basis.
Women traders make up between 75 percent and 80 percent of informal cross-border traders in Rusizi district where one stop border post is to be constructed.
Rwanda, DRC trade at a glance
According to available statistics, cross border trade with DRC amounts to an average of $100 million annually with approximately $30 million going through the Rusizi border.
Experts say that if AfCFTA is operationalized, trade value could increase by $56 million between Rwanda and DR Congo.
DR Congo is a big market for Rwandan small traders as it receives 86 percent of goods from informal trade in Rwanda.
In 2019, Rwanda exported goods worth $372 million to DRC which took 32 percent of all Rwanda's total exports.
However, this amount reduced to $88 million in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic that affected cross border trade but still DR Congo ranked second in receiving Rwanda's exports.