In 2019, Rwanda’s exports to DRC were estimated at US$372 million accounting for 32% of total exports.
Despite effects of COVID-19 pandemic which saw the value of exports to the country dropped to US$ 88.6 million, DRC remained the second largest export market for Rwanda.
Besides, both countries are members of the Economic Community for the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) while DRC is in final processes to become members of East African Community (EAC).
As both countries’ heads of state exchanged visits in June 2021, they agreed on enhancing trade cooperation and free movements.
The latter implies the need for upgraded border infrastructures, increasing flights connecting both countries, building ports and railway among others to facilitate trade.
Cross border trade between both countries is mainly exercised in the districts of Rubavu and Rusizi through different border points including La Corniche One Stop Border Post known as Grande Barrière (main border).
Similar infrastructures are set to be developed in Mururu sector of Rusizi district on the side of Rwanda and Rusizi II in Bukavu on the side of DRC.
The One Stop Border Post to be built in Rusizi is expected to give a boost to the implementation of projects under the framework of both countries’ heads of state.
Figures from the Directorate General of Rwanda Immigration and Emigration shows that more than 12,000 people crossed through Rusizi border before COVID-19 emerged on daily basis.
These include informal cross-border traders, passengers using public transport buses from or to Bukavu town, pedestrians crossing for business reasons and truck drivers.
Every day, the Rusizi-Bukavu border was crossed by 150 cargo cars including 60 trucks before the pandemic which fuelled a drop in traffic to between 6,000 and 7,000 traders. The traffic for cargo cars also dropped to between 70 and 100 daily.
As he laid the foundation stone marking the beginning of construction activities of the a $22 million One Stop Border Post known as Rusizi II, the Governor of Western Province, François Habitegeko told IGIHE that the project will facilitate free movement of people and goods and improve service delivery as well.
“We need state-of-the art border infrastructure to improve services. Once completed, the latter is anticipated to increase traffic because we don’t want people to spend long time seeking clearance,” he said.
Investors urged to tap into presented opportunities
Rusizi One Stop Border Post is a joint project between Rwanda and DRC where both countries immigration and emigration officials will be operating in the same building.
This means, passengers will get movement clearance at one time from both sides.
Banking, customs clearance and foreign currency exchange will be among other services offered in the same building.
The Chairman of Private Sector in Rusizi district, Théophile Rugamba has told IGIHE that the one stop border post is expected to improve services and boost trade.
“The facility was long overdue as it is expected to improve services for Rwandans and Congolese. I would like to encourage fellow businesspeople to work together to tap into presented huge opportunities so that we can smoothly carry out our activities and increase exports to the country,” he said.
The Deputy Governor of Northern Kivu Province, Marc Malago Kashekere also stressed that the border facility will be beneficial for both country’s security and enhanced trade among others.