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The New Times – Rwanda
By: Emmanuel Côme Mugisha
After a sequence of rainy days in Kigali, This Friday, November 22, the skies were brighter. The temperature hit 24 C in the environs around Gikondo Expo grounds where yellow and green banners of Private Sector Federation (PSF) whizzed along the roads leading to the grounds. It is Made-in-Rwanda Expo.
Not only did the banners at Expo ground produced a cool breeze but also expressed what is made in Rwanda: from newborn’s garments to one of Volkswagen’s beast, Amarok.
Wait, just not only products! Rwanda Development Board and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) occupy booths just inches from the entry ribbon.
Only the early birds know about the ribbon because, at 11:27 am, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, Minister at MINICOM cut it to officially open the two-week expo that has attracted over 400 exhibitors.
After the official opening, the leaders visited different booths starting with the cement producer, CIMERWA and Essential Oil.
The Minister for Trade and Industry Soraya Hakuziyaremye (C), Chairman of PSF, Robert Bapfakurera(L), and Deputy CEO of RDB, Zephanie Niyonkuru (R) and other officials open Made-in-Rwanda Expo 2019 at Gikondo Expo Grounds on November 22, 2019. Photos by Emmanuel Kwizera.
The latter fired a sharp, minty scent that was chic enough to get the minister’s attention. The one-year-old company produces organic oils from eucalyptus leaves used in sauna and aromatherapy.
Uncommon as the products may seem on the Rwandan market, Sandi William who was operating the booth said: “The market is too big for us to satisfy.”
“We are working with five farmers’ cooperatives; the produce is not enough according to the market we have.”
With 420 exhibitors registered for this year’s exhibition, recent newsmakers like Volkswagen created a vibrant atmosphere on the first day.
E-golf in spotlight
Volkswagen’s first electric car in the African mobility system was eye-catching.
Nadeje Gaju, the Germany car maker’s head of sales and marketing at Volkswagen Mobility Solutions Rwanda, elaborated on the future of this futuristic car in the Rwandan market.
“Now we are doing a pilot test, but next year, we plan that people will be able to drive e-golfs around the city with our mobility platform, Move,” said Gaju.
According to the salesperson, one e-golf is already on the road offering shuttle services from Kigali International Airport to different destinations in the city, and there is one charging station at the Volkswagen assembling plant in the Special Economic Zone in Masoro, Gasabo District.
However, despite the high demand for the e-golf that Volkswagen Rwanda has recorded since it was launched, the carmaker plans to use it just for ride-hailing.
Gaju cited the lack of mechanical skillset and charging ecosystem as restraints to having e-golf (whose production costs lingers around US$40,000 or Rwf 37.2 million) on the market.
In its fifth edition, Made-in-Rwanda expo demystifies the myth where Kitenge fabrics and a couple of handcrafts signified or represented Made in Rwanda products.
Haojue is a Chinese company that assembles nearly ten different types of fuel-powered motorbikes in Kicukiro District. The fancy Tri 150s is the most expensive on the market, priced Rwf 1.95 million.
Opposite the motorbikes stands a booth of Africa Lubricant Manufacturing Company that produces lubricants and grease, franchised by a Dutch company, Rymax Lubricants.
Rwanda Polytechnic is showcasing an electric wheelchair. Electricity-charged, the chair eases mobility for people with disabilities who do not have someone to push them around.
Literature and Arts
After walking here and there, taking a three-minute break on the “Netflix of Rwanda” was not an idea to regret. Mashusho is a Rwandan platform where you can buy monthly or annual subscriptions to stream Rwandan and African movies.
In literature, Bakame Editions, publisher of romance classics - Humura Shenge and Undutira Abandi is on the spot, same as Cactus Publishers with 30 titles of children’s books in Kinyarwanda, English, and French.
For fashionistas and style artists, they can find fully-made-in-Rwanda hoodies and underwear at the booth of Ufaco and Vlisco.
An exhibitor showcases his products to the officials as they tour inside Made-In-Rwanda Expo.
The exhibitors this year total up to 420 in almost all sections including textile, furniture, e-commerce and of course the only phone manufacturer in Africa, Maraphones.
And “people should not worry about the prices for made-in-Rwanda products because we stopped taxing raw materials imported by local manufacturers,” assured Minister Hakuziyaremye, reminding that Rwandans should also support locally-made goods.
PSF’s chairman Robert Bafakulera explained that every product that is fully or partially manufactured or assembled within Rwandan borders is described as ‘Made-in-Rwanda’.