Current Trade News


At a time when a large section of local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups have been found to be facing issues that make them ineligible to credit from financial institutions, Bank of Kigali is seeking to help reverse the trend.
The bank is one of the four subsidiaries of BK Group, which last week announced a profit after tax of Rwf 7.5 billion in the first quarter of 2019, as well as surpassed the $1 billion valuation in assets becoming the first Rwandan company to reach the mark.
At the moment, its large corporations operating in the local market that are eligible to access to credit with the local financial institutions 'fighting' for the attention of the firms.
To change status quo, bank's officials said that they are seeking to expand the percentage of firms that are eligible to credit by working with the emerging Small and Medium Enterprises.
Multiple studies on the local SME sector have shown that emerging firms continue to face challenges such as lack of adequate governance, poor bookkeeping practices, little market research and poor business plans among others.
Its challenges that have driven up SMEs risk perception and often blamed for non-performing loans. For instance, Bank of Kigali's non-performing loans grew by 16.5 in the first quarter compared to the same period last year to Rwf 39.2 billion.
Among the approaches by Bank of Kigali include working alongside the SMEs to point out common challenges and ways to address the challenges such as bookkeeping practices among others.
The bank's Chief Executive Officer Diane Karusisi said that they also have incentives for well managed SMEs by giving them subsidized loans in a bid to encourage improved management practices.
"The main problem has been governance, these are typically managed by one person and when there is a small problem with that person, the whole company starts struggling. We are making sure that adopt ideal business practices such as record their financials, this is something that will work on for the next couple of years. Most SMEs do not understand the importance of having an accountant to look into their books," she said.
She added that they were making gradual process with the intervention. "We are making progress. With the new credit approach that give subsidies to well managed SMEs, we are telling our customer that if you show us that you are managing your business better, you will get better rates," she added.
The bank's Head of Business, Barnabas Kalenzi, said that other persistent challenges observed in the local market which they are seeking to address include challenges around security and collateral when SMEs seek credit.
With most of the start-ups and SMEs having little if any assets to deposit as collateral when seeking loans, the risk perception often leads to loan rejection.
To address the challenge, Kalenzi said that they are working with guarantee funds such as the Business Development Fund, among others, as well as partnered with business trainers to build capacity in the problematic areas.
"There are also challenges around security, collateralisation of loans. Many loans are rejected because of security, we are partnering with several guarantee funds to be able to increase the collateralisation of these facilities. We have also partnered with firms like Inkomoko and BPN to be able to do some training on management of these companies," he said.
Commenting on the performance of the interventions so far, he said that there was some notable improvement saying that they are likely to scale up the intervention to a bigger level.
"We are already seeing some progress in firms that have undergone this training and hopefully we can scale it to a bigger level," Kalenzi said.
Such interventions, he said are aligned to supporting government priorities such as support to local producers under the Made In Rwanda initiative, boosting job creation and support emergence of competitive local enterprises among others.
Bank of Kigali is currently the market leader in regards to lending with 32.9 per cent market share.


Kenya is the fifth largest coffee-producing country in Africa, but that might change. Coffee farmers in the East African nation are turning to other crops because of drought and low prices on the international market.
Joseph Wainaina, 71, started farming coffee a year after Kenya gained independence. As a teenager, he loved to farm, and for years he enjoyed good returns. But recently, global coffee prices kept dropping, and coffee trees became expensive to maintain.
“I want to cut down coffee trees and forget about it. So that I can I continue with other projects like dairy farming, pig farming, and even poultry farming, these days even chicken makes good returns,” said Wainaina.
In recent years more small-scale coffee farmers in Kenya have been uprooting their coffee trees. Those who have a sentimental attachment to coffee and want to continue farming it must incorporate other crops to make a decent living.
Morris Ikonya is still growing coffee, but to make ends meet for his family, he is forced to grow other crops. “I cannot live off coffee right now. I have to diversify and do other things, and that’s how I went into mushroom farming, and I went into pumpkin farming to try and diversify the source of income,” he said.
Ikonya says he is continuously battling tree diseases and he spends $200 a month to maintain his coffee farm. The price of coffee on the global market has dropped up to 30 cents a kilo. If they are lucky, farmers get 70 cents per kilogram.
Joseph Kieyah of Kenya's Coffee Task Committee, a body charged with policy formulation in the sector, says they are trying to help farmers increase production and coffee tree yields.
“We also proposed a three-year subsidy program again with the intention of trying to assist the farmer to reduce the production cost. Increased production such a way that, we are talking about increasing production from two kilos cherry per tree about eight,” he said.
The reforms in the coffee sector may have come too late for some farmers. Some, like Wainaina, say only an increase in global prices could convince them to continue producing coffee.

Dar es Salaam — Tanzania will sell Zimbabwe a total of 700,000 tonnes of maize following food shortage challenges that the latter has been experiencing in recent years.
President John Magufuli made the commitment yesterday to his Zimbabwean counterpart, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, when the two met at the Harare State House during Magufuli's official visit.
Dr Magufuli told his host that Tanzania had a total of 3.3 million tonnes of surplus food after harvesting 16.8 million tonnes while the country's needs do not exceed 13.5 million tonnes.
Tanzania's Head of State advised Mr. Mnangagwa to consider introducing a National Service programme in his country, saying Tanzania was a good example as the army unit did not only inculcate discipline among the youth but toughened them to cope with various situations and had the potential of making economic contributions.
During their talks, President Magufuli also expressed his disappointment over what he described as the absence of meetings under the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) since 1998, something he said weakened bilateral relations between the two countries.
He directed cabinet ministers in Tanzania to hold JPC meetings with their Zimbabwean counterparts in the next two months to discuss areas of further cooperation.

Ghanzi — Director of Crop Production, Mr. Galeitsewe Ramokapane has observed that Botswana dependency syndrome on importation of Agricultural produce is crippling the agricultural sector.
Officiating at horticultural technical meeting geared towards improving horticultural sub- sector in Ghanzi recently, Mr. Ramokapane stated that 'we cannot produce enough because we have alternatives, as we are depending on our brothers and sisters in South Africa'.
He said despite numerous climate change related challenges facing crop production, food security was an attainable goal only if Batswana could calibrate their mindset. He was concerned that the country was importing even produce of crops which were doing better in the country.
He said the department was working on the formation of horticultural clusters, 'as we expand the idea, we want to exploit all horticultural value chains'. He added that jobs would be created, and value addition incentives enjoyed in the process.
"There are a lot of potatoes produced in Ghanzi area, we should consider processing them before selling them," he exemplified. Chief horticulture officer, Ms. Kgotso Madisa called for exploitation of horticultural the value chain, saying farmers should be taught about every opportunity in each component.
She posited that horticulture presented job opportunities, hence urged sector officers to be agents of change. One participant, Ms. Mpho Morupisi called for establishment of fruit nurseries across the country, arguing that importation of fruit promoted spreading of pests.
"Importation of fruit means importation pest," she said. One Mr. Moremedi Thokweng said productive areas should be exploited to improve production. He said excessive use of chemicals in agriculture was posing health hazards to consumers.
This was so particularly because there was no sector dedicated to check chemical residues content in Agricultural produce. He also said the funding component of horticulture should be improved.
Ghanzi District agricultural coordinator, Ms. Merriam Munamava said safety of agricultural produce was a concern, thus appealed to farmers to keep records of all activities in their farms. "Let's go back to the basics, encouraged farmers to keep records and inspect them." she stated.

Tobacco farmers have sold 12 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf worth US$21,2 million as the variance between current volumes and last year's deliveries continues to decline.
The current volumes are 62 percent lower than the 32 million kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco worth US$91 million that had been sold by farmers during the same period last year.
Deliveries to the floors were low during the first days of the season as some farmers adopted a wait-and-see approach, while others who sold their crop were not happy with the low prices on offer.
During the first days of the 2019 marketing season, variance between this year's deliveries and last season was around 90 percent.
The interbank rate is currently at US$1: $3,15.
Latest statistics from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board indicate that deliveries are increasing as prices continue to firm.
The statistics show that the average price is at US$1,72 compared to last year's average price of US$2, 76 per kg.
The highest price offered so far since the opening of the floors is US$5,10 compared to last year's US$6,22 per kg.
TIMB corporate communications manager, Mr Isheunesu Moyo yesterday confirmed that deliveries were up at the auction floors.
"Tobacco deliveries have been increasing. We expect a further decline in the variance as we approach the Independence and Easter holidays and as prices continue to firm. Deliveries are also expected to increase as schools open.
"Farmers now have a better understanding and appreciation of the payment modalities hence are more confident to deliver their tobacco," he said.
There have been some improvements in the deliveries by farmers to the auction floors especially after Government scrapped the two percent charge on all transactions.
Tobacco production has been on the increase in the past years with Government coming up with programmes to promote value addition to increase foreign currency earnings through increased export.
The Second Republic's thrust is to develop an infrastructure that supports a thriving and open economy which is capable of creating new opportunities for investors and more employment.

WTO members made progress at an informal meeting of the Market Access Committee held on 9 April on improving the operation of the Integrated Database (IDB), which is the main source of tariff and import data at the WTO. The discussion was based on a draft decision that was prepared by the WTO Secretariat with ideas on how to tackle certain issues and update the General Council Decision of 1997 on the supply of information to the IDB.
The WTO's Integrated Database (IDB) is the only database grounded on official data supplied by members on tariffs and import data. It contains data supplied annually on the tariffs members apply on a non-discriminatory basis in line with the most-favoured nation (MFN) principle, as well as their annual imports by tariff line and country of origin. Data on preferential duties under free trade agreements (FTAs) and/or preferential schemes for developing countries are available for some members.
The draft discussed by members consolidates existing rules and procedures which are currently spread across several different documents and decisions, which many members see as one of the main obstacles in complying with the notification requirement to the IDB. The main objective is to streamline the procedures, eliminate terms that have become obsolete (such as "diskettes"), and links to non-existing websites. To this end, it seeks to better explain who must do what and when, including the interaction with other existing notification requirements.
Another important goal of the text is to streamline procedures as much as possible to facilitate compliance by members. The draft decision also eliminates the need to submit some data elements which were no longer considered necessary, seeking to simplify the current requirements and to reduce the burden faced by members in preparing their notifications.
The draft decision also includes some new ideas to take advantage of new technological developments and to align them with other notification requirements. For example, the proposed text would allow members who choose to do so to submit their data by automatically connecting their domestic information technology (IT) systems to the WTO. It also encourages members to try to notify information concerning their preferential trade agreements (i.e. the non-reciprocal preferential schemes in favour of developing countries and least developed countries, such as the Generalized System of Preferences, or GSP) together with their IDB notifications.
The chair of the Market Access Committee, Ms. Zsófia Tvaruskó of Hungary, stressed that members would retain full control of their tariff and import data at all times. As was the case in the 1997 Decision, members would still be able to send revised data at any time, and even to request the removal from the Integrated Database of information already included in the system. In addition, the new ideas, such as the automatic interconnection of IT systems, would be implemented on a voluntary basis.
Members reacted to the proposal in a constructive and positive manner and agreed this is the way forward in terms of streamlining the notification procedure.
Source: WTO