SKOL, Inyange, Volcano back to Burundi’s market as relations get back on track

On 13 February 2023 at 01:01

Some of products from Rwanda are being retailed again in Burundi’s markets, signaling hope for normal relations between Rwanda and Burundi that had deteriorated for seven years since 2015.

Sources from Burundi confirm that products from Rwanda produced by Inyange Industries, drinks from SKOL are among others present on Burundi’s market nowadays.

Meanwhile, some goods from Burundi can also be seen in Rwanda’s markets. These include palm oil and sailver fishes from Lake Tanganyika even though their quantity is still insufficient compared to the past.

On 4th February 2023, President Paul Kagame went to Bujumbura in Burundi where he attended the extra-ordinary summit of regional heads of state on insecurity in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and met with his counterpart of Burundi, Evariste Ndayishimiye.

The visit was also considered as one of great milestones along the process to restore bilateral relations as Kagame had been last in Burundi in 2013.

It is a fruit of ongoing process to mend ties between the two neighboring countries that had deteriorated since 2015 emanating from chaos that followed the re-election of former President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term.

Burundi Eco news medium recently announced that drinks produced in Rwanda from Skol and Inyange Industries as well as cheese from the country are present in different markets in Bujumbura.

Before both countries’ relations worsened, Skol was among popular drinks in Bujumbura that some bars carried the name of the company’s drinks. Advertising billboards were also erected in different parts of the city.

As relations soured, some products from Rwanda were no longer shipped to the country which affected businesses in different aspects.

Volcano Express, a transport company from Rwanda has also resumed travels to Burundi. It recently announced that travelling to Bujumbura onboard the company’s buses costs Rwf15, 000.

In October 2015, Volcano Express’s office was destroyed in Bujumbura and searched by Burundi’s intelligence officials as the country accused Rwanda of supporting coup plot suspects who attempted to overthrow former President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Before both countries experienced strained relations in 2014, trade volumes totaled to US$20 million per annum.

Figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) released in December 2022 indicate that Burundi was Rwanda’s sixth re-export partner.

In December 2022, Rwanda exported goods worth US$290,000 (over Rwf290 million) to Burundi up from US$180,000 of the previous month.

This Sunday, IGIHE conducted a spot check to different markets across Kigali to assess the situation and stablished scarcity of products from Burundi.

“Silver fishes’ prices change overtime. They currently cost Rwf12,000 per kilogramme but it recently stood at Rwf9500. It depends on available quantity. The price reduces when they increase on the market and goes higher in case the quantity decreases. Besides, prices also go up when taxes increase at borders,” said one of vendors selling silver fishes from Lake Tanganyika in Nyabugogo.

Vendors of the silver fishes locally known as ‘Indundi’ affirm that they used to order them through Tanzania, thus affecting the pricing.

Despite their high cost, vendors say that the sardine fishes from Lake Tanganyika are the most delicious. The price of other types of silver fishes in the market stands at Rwf2500.

Felicité Tumwitizina, another vendor of silver fishes in a market known as ‘Kwa Mutangana’ also said that prices would drop if they get enough Indundi supplies.

A client comes to us and leaves instantly after learning about the higher price.

Other products from Burundi found in the market include apple fruits and mangoes among others.

Traders in Kigali say that fruits from Burundi have not yet started pouring in large quantities as usual.

“We do not have fruits from Burundi on the market. The majority of mangoes here are from Tanzania, Uganda and Bugarama,” said another trader.

On Saturday 11th February 2023, the Governor of Kayanza Province in Burundi, Col Remy Cishahayo visited his counterpart of Southern Province, Alice Kayitesi. Both leaders assured that the two countries are working hard to resume businesses as usual.

Palm oil from Burundi is among products available in Rwanda.
Vendors attribute higher price of silver fishes from Burundi to insufficient supplies.
There is optimism for increased products from Burundi on Rwanda's market.