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Rwanda and Burundi offer lucrative export opportunities to Kenya’s products

Kenya stands to expand her export markets in the region, thanks to Rwanda and Burundi advancing as emerging economies.

A report released by the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (BRANDKE), reveals that market access for Kenyan products to Rwanda and Burundi has increased over the years.

This is due to improved export frameworks such as the East African Community Customs Management Act, rules of origin and common external tariff.

The increase of Kenya exports to the two EAC countries is further favoured by Standards Quality Management, Metrology and Testing (SQMT), one-stop border points and Kenya’s good bilateral relations with the two countries.

“Kenya is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Rwanda and Burundi in response to incentives and operating costs such as electrical power,” the report notes.

Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA) Chief Executive Peter Biwott says that Kenya products are rated as good quality and durable, advanced in the industry and somehow expensive.

The research conducted between June and August 2019 by SMK Business Consultants on behalf of the Export Promotion Council aimed at identifying opportunities in trade for Kenyan export products, market requirements, demand trends, market opportunities, strategies of entry and recommendations.

“This study will create a lot of opportunities for solo exhibition and ensure a majority of Kenyans access the Rwanda and Burundi market. Kenyans should not only be encouraged to export solo exhibition but also work in these countries, this will create and promote the Kenyan brand,” said Biwott.

Demand for Kenyan products is slumping in growth amid Rwanda and Burundian population growing at high rates of 2.3 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.  Further, the two countries urban population has been growing fast at 6.4 per cent and 5.7 per cent accordingly.

Kenya’s major exports to Burundi include iron and steel, paper and paperboard, oils, perfumes, cigarettes and iron and steel bars. In Rwanda Kenya exports maize, polishing and cleansing preparations and printed matters among others.

“This study established existence of clear market opportunities for existing Kenya’s export products in both Rwanda and Burundi,” Biwott said.

Biwott added that the study revealed that, following customs harmonization of the customs union protocol which has EAC single customs territory, tax and standards harmonization, it has become easier for traders to export to East Africa.

However, he noted that there are still complaints about delays for clearance procedures at the ports of entry and exit, weighbridges and numerous roadblocks.

Even though Rwanda and Burundi display greater recognition of standards from Kenya, Biwott says some Kenyan goods are still being tested and this mainly affects goods which lack EAC rules of origin certificate.

The study advises that for local exporters to excel in the two countries, there is need to understand the market and make product tweaks in features such as packaging sizes and materials to align with customer willingness to pay and changing preferences.

Further Biwott called on the exporters to strengthen relationships with distribution chain players’ in local markets to enhance product availability.

The exporters also should appoint local marketing agents with consumer feedback mechanisms to improve the marketing strategies and meet new customer needs.

The study has recommended strategic advice to current and potential manufacturers and exporters on how to exploit available opportunities by diversifying product offering, targeting lower income segments with smaller quantity packaging, deepening market penetrating to non-capital towns.

By Rosebell Njega

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