The National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) in partnership with Enabel- the Belgian development agency have launched the 2020-2021 Open Calls Programme to help firms engaged in the clay value chain for construction materials to acquire upgraded equipment.
The support aims at improving firms’ competitiveness and productivity for them to increase the quality and quality of locally made construction materials such as bricks and tiles among other materials needed on the market.
The technology audit survey carried out by NIRDA on clay the value chain for construction materials revealed technological and technical gaps that affect the competitiveness of materials construction materials made from clay as raw material.
It found that 49.2 percent of the firms lack modern technology while 85 percent have challenges related to the cost of firing materials while 29 percent are still a threat to environmental protection.
It also revealed that 33 percent of the firms are hampered by the cost of the clay processing and 32 percent face challenges related to the cost of clay extraction.
Of 813 brick kilns in Rwanda, 709 of them use the traditional way of firing bricks according to the same report.
Christian Sekomo Birame, the Director-General of the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) said that there is a need for advanced technology in processing and lowering the cost of production.
The Open Call program, he said seeks to improve technology at the processing stage, improve firing or drying facilities for the efficient use of energy and environmental protection, construct upgraded kilns for efficient-energy and provide training to clay value chain operators.
“They will acquire equipment as repayable facilities at zero interest rate and without any collateral,” he said.
He said that the winners will also be trained on the best use of technology, quality production processes and business and marketing strategies.
“We also provide selected firms with cost-free technical advice to support the growth of their business. However, we do not give out cash but rather provide the capital through direct payments to suppliers of the technology,” he said.
He said they will work with industries even after acquiring equipment to build their capacities, link them to banks to address their financial constraints.
The applicants must have been operational in the clay value chain for construction materials for the last two years and be registered with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) or Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA).
They must have at least 5 employees and already be in processing for construction materials.
They must also have sufficient space to host a typical processing plant of clay.
Firms welcome the support
Faustin Uhawenimana who makes bricks from clay in the Rulindo district said: “We are still using traditional methods. We hope to acquire modern technology in processing such as improved drying facilities and kilns which we need most. This Open Calls program is long overdue for clay processors and we are ready to compete,”
“We only operate during dry seasons but with the support, we will be able to produce anytime to satisfy local and export demand,” she said.
Sam Kamugisha, Director-General for Industry and entrepreneurship promotion at the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that construction materials from clay would help the country get more affordable construction materials as the country is developing faster.
“Supporting firms in the clay value chain will undoubtedly contribute to the creation of 214,000 decent and productive jobs thus helping our country to increase locally made products both in quality and quantity,” he said adding that this will contribute to growing exports by 17% annually.
He said that NST1 seeks to accelerate sustainable urbanization from 18.4% (2016/17) to 35% by 2024 and that necessitates the need for improved construction materials.
“Urbanisation aspect goes hand in hand with affordable construction materials including those produced from clay. Construction materials such as breaks and tiles among others are much needed,” he said.
Dirk Deprez, Enabel Resident Representative in Rwanda said that they choose to work with the government of Rwanda to help seek innovations in producing efficient and environment-friendly products from clay.
“Belgian supports the Clay value chain actors' ambitions to improve technological innovation to make the value chain more efficient, reduce environmental impact, boost economic development, protect the environment &create more jobs,” he said.
Applicants have until January 10, 2021, to have submitted their request for support. Application is only via http://opencalls.nirda.gov.rw/