Looking beyond Ukraine, China

Sunday May 29 2022
High food prices

Parents are finding it harder to afford basic foodstuff as prices increase. Picture: Cyril Ndegeya

By Ange Iliza

Traders affiliated with the Private Sector Federation (PSF) are seeking alternative markets to curb further increase in prices of essential commodities such as cooking oil and sugar.

Head of the PSF commercial chamber, Dr Joseph Akamuntu, told Rwanda Today that traders are looking to shift sugar imports from Zimbabwe where over 90 percent of sugar consumed in Rwanda was imported, to a new market in Brazil. They plan to do the same on cooking oil and wheat that used to be imported from Indonesia and Ukraine
to Egypt, Malaysia, and the Caribbean.

Dr Akamuntu says having alternatives might not necessarily drop prices but would prevent a further increase. Minimum wage The National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda reported in May that consumer prices increased 15 percent in April.

The trend has been upward since late last year making living costs in Kigali worse given that incomes do not correspond to the increase. Rwanda still applies the minimum wage from 1974 of Rwf100.

As of May 16, a liter of cooking oil cost Rwf5,200 at Kimironko market from less than Rwf2,000 last year this time. A kilo of sugar is Rwf2,200 from Rwf1,500. A kilo of wheat flour increased from Rwf1,500 last year to Rwf2,200 now.

The increases led to an automatic increase in other goods that are derived from them such as soap, bread, and beverages. Dr Akamuntu says PSF, in partnership with stakeholders, has secured markets in Brazil. Malaysia, Zambia, Congo Brazzaville and is in talks with some Caribbean countries and Egypt.


In the week of May 16, delegates from PSF and the Ministry of Trade and Industry visited Egypt as Rwanda’s new sugar source.

Rwanda is heavily dependent on sugar and oil imports. Annual output at Kabuye Sugar Works, Rwanda’s sole sugar miller remains in the 12,000–20,000 tonne range, well below the national demand of 150,000 tonnes in 2020.

The Executive Secretary of Rwanda Consumer’s Rights Protection Organization, Damien Ndizeye has expressed concerns that the public cannot rely on the private sector to solve the issue of rising prices.

“Traders will always go for high profits. Some take advantage of the situation and increase prices. It should be an offence. We raised the issue to the Ministry of Trade to sanction them and hold the accountable,” he said.