Agricultural produce exporters are upbeat on increasing volumes to the international market after RwandAir introduced a cargo flight.
Since the national carrier, Rwandair introduced its first cargo flight- carrying up to 23 tons of commodities in November last year, exporters of agricultural products said the additional space will trigger an increase in volumes of products they export.
“Our major problem was lack of cargo space which limited the volumes we exported. Since the cargo plane was introduced, we have expanded our export volumes, and there is a big change,” said
Robert Rukundo, an exporter and president of Rwanda Horticulture Exporters association. Mr Rukundo added that the cost of transportation isreducing due to competition, citing cargo rates from Kigali to Europe Union and the UK markets have gone down from $200 per Kilogramme to $1.8 since RwandAir introduced the cargo flight.
Transporting cargo to Dubai stands at $1.1 per Kilogramme, $1.2 to Qatar, and $1.2 to East and Central African countries.
“There has been a slight reduction in cargo rates to Europe, it could be little but it is important, cargo costs are still high but now that we are seeing other cargo airlines interested in opening operations in Kigali competition will lead to better prices for us,” said Mr Rukundo, adding that the recent launch of a cargo hub in Kigali by RwandAir and Qatar Airways will increase access to export markets.
RwandAir said the newly launched Kigali cargo hub is part of a long-term strategic plan for the airline’s cargo division, which has seen cargo carried rise by nearly 26 percent in the last five years.
Since March 13, Qatar Airways Cargo has created intra-Africa services be- tween Kigali and Lagos (three times per week), Kigali and Johannesburg (three times a week), and a weekly service from Istanbul via Doha to Kigali, all operated by a single wet-leased A310 200 freighter.
RwandAir transported a total of 3,744 tons of cargo in 2022, with the majority of shipments going to Dubai, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. 3,129 in 2019, 3,253 tons in 2020, 3,889 tons in 2021.