Rwanda’s New $10 million Facility expected to Boost Real Estate Sector and Create Jobs

Albert Nsengiyumva, Rwanda's State Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is flanked by Emmanuel Hategeka, the Trade and Industry Ministry permanent secretary and Eckardt Dauck, the chairman of STRAWTEC as he commissions the plant.

A new $10 million facility that is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs for agronomists and wheat farmers has been commissioned in Kigali, Rwanda. The facility, STRAWTEC Building Solutions Rwanda, specialises in the production of high-quality pre-fabricated wall panels from wheat and rice stalks.

According to Albert Nsengiyumva, the State Minister for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), the facility is expected to benefit more than 1,000 TVET graduates and crafts men along the value chain. According to him, another 1,000 specialised construction jobs will be created across the country.

The minister was speaking during the commissioning of the mega facility at the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Nyandungu, Gasabo District in the City of Kigali last week.

Under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II), government is counting on the private sector to drive the country’s industrialisation and development initiatives to help create at least 200,000 off-farm jobs annually by 2018.

Therefore, the commencement of production at the facility is a big step toward the realisation of  this objective, Benjamin Gasamagera, the chairman of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), said.

“We must embrace innovative alternative solutions that will help create more jobs as well as fast-track the country’s economic growth. PSF is ready to work with and support all investors to achieve these and other objectives,” Gasamagera said.

According to Eckardt Dauck, the chairman of STRAWTEC Building Solutions Rwanda, the company is committed to supporting skills development in the country through knowledge transfer programmes so that more Rwandans benefit from the project. This approach, he added, will help create more sustainable jobs for the youth.

The company plans to bring to the market about 2,000 housing units (of 50 square metres) per year. The 30-metre free span steel structure accommodates the strawboard production high-tech equipment that uses crop fibres like rice and wheat stalks (straws) to produce high quality boards.

According to Emmanuel Hategeka, the Trade and Industry Ministry permanent secretary, the facility will help boost competitiveness of the country’s real estate sector and make it more profitable.

“And to be able to reduce our imports bill by at least $450 million by 2018, as well as meet our domestic, regional and global demand for various products, such practical solutions are critical,” Hategeka said.

Charles Haba, the director of Century Real Estate and chairman of the local Association of Real Estate Developers, believes the facility could be a game changer for the country’s real estate industry.

“It is a perfect solution for the quest of affordable housing… However, the issue is whether they will be able to get the raw materials they need to produce enough products to meet the market demand in a sustainable manner,” Haba told Business Times.

According to Haba, such alternative building solutions are best suited to help bring to the market affordable houses, especially with the country’s rate of urbanisation of 4.1 per cent, and almost 17 per cent of the population that lives in urban areas.

Rwanda is importing most of the materials needed by the real estate sector, a situation that has always held back efforts to deliver affordable houses to the population, especially the middle and low-income earners.

Fred Rwihunda, the president of the Institute of Engineers Rwanda, observed that using locally-sourced raw materials could help ease the cost of construction and, ultimately, that of homes.

Source: New Times Rwanda

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