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RECTS Commissioning – Speech by DFID Country Director

UK a strong champion of trade facilitation

1.    Good afternoon: Honourable Minister Kanimba, Commissioner General of the Rwanda Revenue Authority, CEO of the Private Sector Federation, and Senior Director of TradeMark East Africa.

 As the new Head of the UK’s Department for International Development in Rwanda, I am delighted to be here at the Rwanda Revenue Authority for the commissioning of this highly innovative new system for tracking cargo along East Africa’s major trade corridors.

This afternoon we’ve had the opportunity to hear about the transformational impact that the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTS) will generate in Rwanda – and across the region – by making it easier, safer and cheaper to move cargo around the region, for both import and export. What’s more, we have seen first-hand what this will look like on the ground through the eye of the RRA’s Central Monitoring System. I’m sure you’ll agree that the end-to-end tracking and response system is extremely impressive, and we’re looking forward to seeing the real impact for traders as the system is fully rolled out and harmonised across region.

But I wanted to share with you why the RECTS is so important to DFID – not just as a technological tool, but as a core part of Rwanda’s much larger and transformative trade agenda.

The UK is a strong champion of trade facilitation because we know it can be a crucial driver of inclusive growth. Trade is critical to Rwanda’s economic development story: it boosts exports and GDP, creates a range of low to high-skilled jobs along trade value chains (like textiles), attracts private investment, generates tax revenue – and can ultimately play a key role in transitioning Rwanda away from aid, and bringing people out of poverty.

The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development re -affirmed the importance of trade facilitation in a recent speech, saying:  “Small businesses, rural communities, women and minority groups – they all stand to benefit from the growth and job creation that trade brings…The UK’s commitment to free trade has never been stronger.”

We see trade as an area where the UK and Rwanda can strengthen our economic ties as a “win-win” for both countries. To put this in context, trade between the UK and Africa has now reached £26.5bn annually. But we want to see a growing share of this trade and investment flow into Rwanda, and it is innovations like the ECTS that will help new trade partnerships to flourish by reducing the cost of doing business – for local business and foreign investors alike.

TMEA’s role in trade facilitation

8.    At this point, I would also like to recognise Trade Mark East Africa’s (TMEA) critical role in supporting Rwanda’s – and East Africa’s – transformative trade facilitation agenda, of which DFID is the founder and largest donor.

TMEA’s impact in Rwanda lies in its ability to respond to, and work closely with, the Government of Rwanda, the East African Community and the private sector as a nimble partner, helping to connect up the dots within East Africa’s trade eco-system.

In TMEA’s first phase, it has helped generate an additional $100 million of induced trade in Rwanda – a volume that will continue grow as new TMEA-supported innovations like the ECTS are brought to fruition.

 Celebrating GoR’s vision

11.  But we know that these achievements are not TMEA’s – TMEA is a trade facilitator. It is the Government of Rwanda’s clear vision and committed leadership of its trade agenda that has driven results in this field, in tandem with the regional government partnerships with Uganda and Kenya that will connect the ECTS across the Northern Transport Corridor.

The UK commends the Government of Rwanda for being a bold, technological innovator in this arena. In pioneering new, trade-enabling hardware and software, we can prove the value of these systems in Rwanda, crowd in interest from other countries, and attract private investment to commercialise these into revenue-generating ventures – developments that are sustainable in the long term.

 More to be done

13.  But, there is still more to be done to harness Rwanda’s trade potential. Although trade is crucial for development, the links are not automatic. We need to make sure that each actor in the trade cycle is able to exploit the benefits trade can bring: from the truck driver transporting goods along the northern corridor to Kigali, to the farmer producing tea for export, ready to be transported to the Mombasa tea auction – hopefully with an ECTS seal tracking its movement.

For these reasons, the UK is proud to be supporting TMEA and the Government of Rwanda in driving this vital trade facilitation agenda and ensuring the developmental benefits are realised.

We are truly excited about the role that the RECTS will have in reducing the cost of doing business across East Africa and harnessing Rwanda’s trade potential, and in strengthening the trade ties between Rwanda and the UK for long to come into the future.

 Thank you very much.

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