Rwandan minister warns of Economic risks without increased domestic production

By Esther Muhozi
On 25 May 2024 at 07:51

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, has emphasized the crucial importance of increasing domestic production to avoid a severe devaluation of the Rwandan currency. He predicted that if no actions are taken, in ten years the dollar could be exchanged for over 2000 Rwandan francs, according to current data.

During a speech last Friday in Kigali at the three-day National Security Symposium, the minister discussed the global challenges in commerce, industry, and national debt. He shared the stage with Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan expert in global economics.

Dr. Ngabitsinze explained that the solution for Africa to avoid the severe consequences of these problems would be to produce locally the necessities of its citizens, rather than importing them. "Yesterday, I checked websites that forecast future exchange rates, and I was surprised to find that in ten years, one dollar will be worth over 2000 Rwandan francs. I had never thought about it before. I added another five years to my calculation and saw a 20% increase," he said, shocked by the findings.

He continued by sharing his personal concerns. "When I got home, surrounded by my four children and my wife, I wondered, ’Where will we be in 20 years when I am retired?’ We have been trained to think only of the positive aspects, but the numbers also show the negative sides."

The minister also mentioned that some global problems arise unexpectedly, leaving no time to prepare. "As Donald Kaberuka said, we are heading towards a future full of challenges... If we do not invest in industry now, we will face problems with debt and purchasing power in 20 years. The solution is to produce locally. If you do not produce anything and only consume imports, the result will be disastrous," he warned, using his own life as an example to illustrate the imbalance between needs and local production.

He called for a general awareness that life can bring its share of challenges, and criticized certain African policies, such as border closures, which he finds regrettable. "It is sad that on the African continent, when we have conflicts, we express them through trade by closing borders, even when we have nothing to offer locally. This is very bad because it shows misplaced pride," he concluded, highlighting the potential and need for better management to enable the continent to progress.