There is need for concrete measures to ease cross-border business for small-scale traders, especially women, to create jobs and bring in goods and services not available in their own countries at cheaper prices, officials meeting in Rwandan capital city Kigali said on Monday.
The remarks were made at a meeting that drew officials from Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were convened to chart ways of addressing challenges hindering cross-border trade in the region.
The meeting, organized by Pro-femme Twese Hamwe, Rwanda’s civil society umbrella of nearly 60 women organizations, also discussed progress made in addressing the challenges to cross-border traders seen as critical is sustainable economic development.
Limited access to credit, lack of information on regional trading protocols and services, robbery, gender-based violence and confiscation were cited among the major challenges.
Speaking at the meeting, Emma Marie Bugingo, the executive secretary of Pro-femme Twese Hamwe, stressed the need to urgently address challenges to women’s small-scale businesses by involving stakeholders including police, migration and revenue officials.
Briefing the meeting on current progress, Robert Opirah, director general of trade and investment at Rwanda’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, said the Rwandan government has constructed border markets to support small-scale traders, with three markets completed at Rwanda-Uganda border at Burera, Rwanda-Burundi border at Akanyaru and Karongi.
Figures from the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry show that cross-border trade contributes over 170 million U.S. dollars annually to the country’s economy. Enditem