An audit which was carried out by the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) on 127 wood processing enterprises in 10 districts in Rwanda revealed that adequate technology in wood processing can save the country millions of dollars.

The survey, conducted in March this year, was launched this week. It assessed the status of the industry, highlighting gaps in terms of raw materials, processing methods as well as the tools and equipment used in making wood products. The survey also seeks to determine the competitiveness and challenges of Rwanda’s wood industry.

Dr. Paul Mugabi, a researcher and consultant who was part of the team that conducted the audit said, “Most of these furniture items from Malaysia, China, can actually be done here if the right training and the right equipment are used.”

The audit suggests that in addition to adopting paper recycling technology, pulp and paper technology should be introduced. Rwanda also needs to adopt modern technology to improve the finishing of wooden products made locally in order to benefit from the export market.

The Director-General of NIRDA, Kampeta Sayinzoga said, “We will work with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) so that we determine whether there is a Rwandan or foreign investor who wants to venture into this activity. What is good is that it has been established through the audit that it is a possible undertaking and has a market in Rwanda and in neighbouring countries.”

Kenya spent $433.6 million on the importation of products of pulp, paper and board in 2018. Rwanda imports wood products like paper, board, and office furniture, which researchers say can be produced locally.

However, the ban of polythene bags calls for use of new packaging materials such as paper-like materials which can easily be decomposed. This would increase the demand for paper in the country and if it is being imported, it will be a loss on the part of the wood produce industry.

NIRDA adds that the result of the survey is an open call invitation by the government to private industries willing to invest in the wood sector. In 2018, Rwanda was also seeking companies to invest in timber production and other related industries to boost forestry and timber business locally.

With the use of efficient and effective technology that require the use of less wood to get the highest benefits, Rwanda can save more than $300 million rather than lose it to other countries.

By Tobiloba Ishola

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