By David Himbara
The Kagame government is celebrating the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The 22 countries required for AfCFTA to enter into force have come onboard. The Rwandan newspapers led by The New Times and KT Pressare falling over themselves singing praises to AfCFTA.
We have two problems here. First, Kagame’s Rwanda has little to trade. Second, Kagame closed the border with Uganda that is the gateway to trade with Uganda, Kenya, and the world via the Mombasa seaport.
Here are Rwanda’s principal exports in 2018.
In 2018, Rwandan exports amounted to US$995 million. That is less than the amount of money Rwanda receives in foreign aid which is US$1.2 billion a year. The real question is — which African country will buy Rwanda’s principal exports of coffee, tea, cassiterite, coltan, wolfram, hides and skins, and pyrethrum? Zero.
Then there is the border with Uganda Kagame has locked up since February 2019. Rwandans are not allowed travel to Uganda or Kenya. Goods from Uganda are not allowed into Rwanda.
Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of East African affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, is quoted as saying that “It’s a historic moment to see the AfCFTA getting virtually into force.” This may be so, but certainly not for Kagame’s Rwanda that hardly has any tradable goods into AfCFTA and has locked itself out of its own region of East Africa.