Rwanda’s manufacturing sector has been experiencing a steady growth. But every success always has its mothers and fathers, which in case of Rwanda manufacturing sector can be brought around one common denominator: National Policies.
Those policies driving the growth of manufacturing sector we can say:
- Vision 2020, where an industrial contribution of 26% to GDP by 2020 is expected;
- EDPRS 2, where industrial contribution of 20%to GDP by 2018 is expected and annual growth rate of 14%;
- Rwanda Industrial Policy(2011) aims at increasing domestic production, improving export competitiveness and creating an enabling environment for industrialization;
- Private Sector Development Strategy which aims at building a more competitive manufacturing sector;
- Favorable fiscal and non-fiscal incentives provided to manufacturers;
- Serviced land in Special Economic Zones and industrial parks to facilitate quick project implementation;
- Export Processing Zone (EPZ) status advantages for manufacturers who export 80% of their produce.
According to the report from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN), the industrial sector grew by 6% during 2013/2014, compared to 12% in the 2012/2013. The construction and manufacturing sector with 5% growth, and beverages which grew at a rate of 3%. The Manufacturing sector was weakened by border issues with DRC which hindered trade in beverages in particular. However, the decrease experienced by soft drinks was mainly due to the fact that some of the output which used to be exported to DRC (Goma) through BRALIRWA distributors was stopped from April 2014 by the DRC local authority, local authority, following complaints from one local company which also make the same products. Sugar production declined due to the fact that the industry stopped production for four months for maintenance purposes instead of the more typical two months stoppage. The production of cement increased by 5% and modern beer by 4%. The production of cement increased mainly due to the greater stability of electricity used to run machines in the production process compared to the previous period. However, it was still a below-average increase in cement, which was related to the slow-down in construction, along with strong competition from imported.
For the manufacturing sector, the following products recorded a negative growth: soaps (-6%), Paints (-22%), textiles (-18%), sugar (-18%) and flour production (-9%). The share of the industry sector to the GDP was 15%.
It is projected that the manufacturing sector will grow by 4% in 2015 despite facing myriad challenges such as poor infrastructure, unreliable electricity, skills gap and technology amongst others.
Trade with EAC 
Imports from EAC countries increased by 10% in 2013/14, due to the reduction of import tariffs, reduced non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and more efficient Border controls. However, exports to the EAC have declined significantly 44%, which is related to the low competition in the region. Major exports to the EAC include tea and coffee (Mombasa Auction), hides and skins, iron and steel.