President Paul Kagame of Rwanda made the highlight in Dar es Salaam yesterday while gracing the official opening of the 40th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) at the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Grounds under the theme; “Linking production to markets.”
Mr Kagame has underscored the need for faster and deeper regional integration and inter-trade among member states of the East African Community (EAC) as among crucial tools for economic growth and eventually improved welfare for citizens in the bloc.
He was accompanied by his host President John Magufuli and other high-ranking government officials from the two countries. After the official opening of the fair, President Kagame conferred awards to companies and government institutions which had emerged winners in the 40th DITF exhibitions.
The Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA) emerged the overall winner of the 40th DITF followed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism as well as the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) which emerged as second and third winner, respectively.
Later the two presidents proceeded to visit selected pavilions at the trade fair grounds. Mr Kagame, speaking in fluent Kiswahili and English said: “There is a lot of opportunities for our people in the EAC which can be easily accessed through deeper and faster integration of our countries.
Tanzania and Rwanda, for instance, are bonded more than their histories and boarders.” He urged business community to be the first to identify and benefit from opportunities in the regional bloc, noting that the EAC was open to receive both investments and capital from elsewhere in the world.
The president further pointed that the people of Rwanda share the same commitment of eagerness in doing business to develop the economy as their Tanzanian counterparts.
“The Rusumo One-Boarder post and Rusumo Bridge which we launched with President Magufuli offers an example of our commitment to strengthen business between our countries and the EAC in general,” President Kagame remarked.
He went on to note that unnecessary barriers to trade were among challenges that governments in the regional bloc were working around the clock to address in a bid to boost trade.
President Kagame hailed Tanzania as a country blessed with vast resources and skilled people eager to develop the country. Speaking earlier, President Magufuli noted with concern that the contribution of Tanzania in global and regional trade was minimal due to a number of factors.
“Tanzania’s stake in trade is below 0.5 per cent globally and 20 per cent in the EAC and this is due to a number of factors including export of raw materials rather than finished products. European countries on the other hand contribute over 70 per cent in world trade.
“In the same development, inter-trade among member states of the EAC is low due to the above mentioned factor, in addition to lack of business knowhow and aggressive marketing as well as envy among member states,” he remarked.
President Magufuli pointed out vast opportunities in the EAC which is made up of six countries with a total population of 165 people as well as 40 million people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
He went on to commend President Kagame for accepting the invitation to grace the international trade fair where 15 companies from Rwanda are participating.
“Your visit has proved close relationship between Tanzania and Rwanda.” The trade fair this year has attracted exhibitors from 30 countries where 650 companies are showcasing products and technologies while over 2,000 small and medium enterprises are also participating.
For his part, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage, said the government through the Tanzania Trade Development Trade Authority (TanTrade) plans to improve the exhibitions in coming years to enable Tanzanians acquire technology to establish industries.
“Our Second Five Year Development Plan for 2016/17 to 2020/2021 focuses on an industrialised economy and thus we will make sure that in future years we have technology, particularly from Asian countries which have excelled in industrialisation,” the minister remarked.