More and more apparel brands and manufacturers are turning to Africa to source their goods, and Rwanda may soon be another locale to consider.
The Rwandan government recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Chinese firm C&H Garments Company to start the process of creating a garment manufacturing sector in the African nation.
Under the MoA, C&H is expected to invest in equipment for a training base in Rwanda, and to employ at least 200 workers at the onset, according to a government statement. The hope is that the investment will foster significant job creation and export growth for the country, and position Rwanda as a viable place to produce apparel.
Clare Akamanzi, chief operating officer of the Rwanda Development Board, said, “Rwanda has created an investment climate that attract foreign investors who always want safe destinations for their capital, the government will also continue to support new investors coming to Rwanda.” She added that the investment, if successful, will boost the local manufacturing sector, in terms of diversifying Rwanda’s export base, creating jobs and offering new skill sets for workers. Akimanzi also made note of Rwanda’s well-ranked business environment and said C&H’s investment is the first of many.
C&H owner Helen Hai said, “We will shortly be shipping new equipment from China and plan to recruit our initial 200 workers in September 2014. We believe that Rwanda can offer a strong and disciplined workforce that will ensure we develop a successful business exporting garments to both Europe and the US.”
In 2013, Rwanda exported $24 million worth of goods to the U.S., a 26.6% decrease from the previous year. The two largest export categories were coffee and vegetable saps, but the country hopes developing a manufacturing sector could improve its economic position.
“We look forward to seeing Rwanda create home-made garments that will be commercially successful in domestic and export markets,” Akimanzi said.