Kigali, September 25, 2019- The Government of Rwanda has managed to leverage significant support from development partners to support Cross Border Trade (CBT) prosperity in the country and in the region. Partners active in support include, the World Bank through its Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project is funding development of key trade infrastructure which include construction of Cross Border Markets (CBMs). The construction works on Nyamasheke Cross Border Market is progressing well and is expected to be completed by April 2020. The second CBM which the World Bank is funding is Bugarama (Kamanyola) which is at tendering stage after validation of its feasibility study and technical designs.
CBT directly benefits the poor and can be a driver for regional peace and is key to regional trade integration. Informal CBT accounts for a considerable proportion of Rwanda’s regional trade, with exports estimated at US$108.3 million in 2015 and imports of US$22 million.
This is a very different trade balance compared to the formal sector, where Rwanda runs a trade deficit. It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of cross border traders are women, and 90% of these women traders rely on CBT as their sole source of income.
Recognizing the importance of cross-border trade as a major component of business in the country and a particularly important avenue for poverty alleviation with a strong gender impact, Rwanda developed a National Cross Border Trade Strategy (NCBTS 2012-2017). This Strategy sought to align this cluster of trade with trade‑related policies and other existing Government policies focusing on a market‑led approach to expand CBT.
The World Bank-supported project is seeking to free up the movement of goods and services and reduce hazards faced by small-scale traders, especially women. Implemented in cooperation with COMESA, the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation Project aims to clear logistical and administrative logjams at busy border crossings, reduce corruption and the harassment of traders — particularly of women — boost local and regional economies and alleviate poverty.
The goal of the project is to improve the efficiency, capacity and security of border operations at a number of key border crossings connecting the economies of Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, thus improving the economic health of the region.
The US$ 26 million project (Rwanda Chapter) will fuse both physical and logistical improvements in customs and border facilities with policy and procedural reforms and capacity‑building. For example, the project will fund the construction of shelters for traders waiting at the border; automated turnstiles to facilitate more speedy passage through the border and less physical contact with, and therefore less potential harassment from, border officials; gender sensitivity training for border officials; and the enshrinement of policies, such as a requirement that inspections of female traders be conducted by female officials.