Reopening of border with Uganda brings hopes of lower prices of sugar as local companies struggle to serve the market, leading to high costs. It was understood that the price of sugar has gone up to over Rwf400 per kilogramme, an increase of 40 percent since 2019.
Ministry of Trade and Industry attributed the rise in price to a drop in imported sugar and the failure of a local sugar factory to satisfy the local market. However, reopening of Ugandan borders gives hope to stabilisation of prices.
Importers said they brought less amount of sugar to rescue their market as Covid-19 also shocked the global market.
In 2014, the prices of cooking oil, rice, and sugar were high due to high tax that was imposed on their imports.
However in 2017, the government decided to reduce the tax on imported sugar and other goods from East Africa Community and Common Market for Eastern Africa from 100 percent down to 25 percent to facilitate the local factory to feed the market.
Between 2017 and 2019, local consumer would get a kilogram of sugar from retailers at Rwf750.
But this year, the price rose to Rwf1,100. The consumers have raised concerns of high prices of sugar due to dwiddling fortunes as a result of impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Denyse Byukusenge, a resident of Kigali, told Rwanda Today that it has become difficult to afford sugar.
“I can only a half kilogramme of sugar, which obviously not enough for four members of my family," She lamented.
Shopkeepers said they are feeling the pinch of inflation as the number of sugar consumers has dropped due to high prices. Jean Claude Kabalisa who owns a shop in Kimironko said before Covid-19, a sack of sugar that weighs 50 kilogrammes cost Rwf47,000 and would last only for less than a week in the stock.
Today, the cost of sugar is Rwf51000, and it is estimated to last for three weeks in stock. Ministry of Trade and Industry reported that entry of imports like sugar and other commodities like vegetable oil and rice decreased by 46 percent due to the Covid-19 effects and drought season that diminished the wetland harvest in the region.
The imported sugar was dominating 65 percent at the Rwandan market while the rest 25 percent was for a local factory, Kabuye Sugar Works. Navukkarasu, the manager of Kabuye Sugar Works told Rwanda Today that the factory decreased 10 percent of their production in the past two years due to the limited demand to supply because of the decline of sugar cane harvest which pushed to adjust the price.