The Western Province of Rwanda and South Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo held a joint discussion on how to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 epidemic, especially in cross-border trade.
The talks took place in Rusizi District on Monday, May 10, 2021, in which traders crossing the border between Rwanda and the DRC were asked to be patient while the two parties continue to work on the situation before trade movements come back to normal.
During the talks, organized by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Rwanda was represented by the Governor of the Western Province, Habitegeko François and the private sector while the Congolese delegation was represented by Théo Ngwabidje Kasi and the group of the private sector in the DRC.
Among the traders’ concerns are the closure of the border and the passage of food and other basic necessities, but the flow of goods and services was so stagnant that the people of both countries continued to lose.
In an interview with IGIHE after a meeting with his counterpart, Governor Habitegeko said the problems raised by the traders were accepted but they are required to be patient as the nature of the epidemic is one to determine the opening of the cross-border trading.
Governor Habitegeko said other concerns raised by border residents on the Rwandan side are the presence of cross-border cards issued to allow the holders to cross, however these days they are no longer allowed to use those cards to cross to DRC.
“We have discussed this and other issues with both sides but we have assured them that there are good results and we should remind them that they should be patient and abide by the Covid-19 prevention guidelines set by the health authorities,” he said.
On the other hand, the Governor of the South Kivu, Théo Ngwabidje Kasi, said that they are waiting for their border to be opened and that once Rwanda’s measures are simplified, the border will be opened for the movements of people and goods.
“In our country, the border is open, all the instructions are on the Rwandan side because of Covid-19, but we hope that when that finishes, things will go back to normal,” he said.
COVID-19 has reduced trade with the region (EAC and DRC) by 244.9%. This resulted in a loss of $ 57.7 million from the expected profit if the business has not been affected.
“It’s a global phenomenon, business has been hit hard, and Rwandan business has been hit hard because of Coronavirus which is still the problem,” Governor Habitegeko said.