Landlocked and hilly, Rwanda is one of world’s least developed countries and one of Nile River headstream countries. It faces major social challenges such as a high poverty and unemployment rate, and major economic challenges, such as a weak industrial capacity, with over 95 percent of produce imported. In addition, it faces major ecological challenges with severe soil and water erosion, as well as a negative impact on countries downstream of the Nile River caused by a sharp decline in forest coverage from 75 percent before the 1994 genocide to 28 percent. Rwanda has rich bamboo resources but are untapped due to lack of technology.
Towards a Solution
Rwanda would desire to develop its bamboo sector as a new green alternative for addressing their challenges considering bamboo has unique advantages like fast-growth, strong-renewing, short-cycle, big-biomass, etc.China’s bamboo takes a world’s leading position in technology, production, etc. In 2009, the project titled “China-aid Rwanda’s Bamboo Planting, Processing and Utilization” was initiated in Rwanda by cooperation of the Chinese government through Ministry of Commence (MOFCOM) and the Rwanda government through Ministry of Water and Forestry, it is rolled out from 2009 to 2019, China and Rwanda makes input of around US $ 3.5 million and various in-kind respectively. 5 Chinese experts are deployed in Rwanda (one of expert died of malaria). In 2019, A Chinese private company has invested US $ 800 million for Bamboo Concrete Board production to replace its huge import to Rwanda and other East Africa Community (EAC) countries since its high construction market demands driven by China Belt and Road Initiative. In 2019, Global South-South Development Center Project dispatched 2 CBRC’s experts to conduct a study tour for it, and now is considering to join it to accelerate such a PPP cooperation.
- By technical transfer and machinery import from China, 4 large water-spray-facilitated and all-year-production green-house nurseries as Bamboo Propagation Incubators (BPIs) are established in South, East, West and North Provinces, 2000 square meter for each , 3 bamboo elite bamboo species are introduced from China to Rwanda, multiplied massively, planted alongside river banks, and degrading areas for up to 400 ha., they function well against soil and water conservation and for supply to value-added processing; a comprehensive High-value Bamboo Processing Incubator (HBPI) is set up in Kigali and make out over 100 kinds of products in 4 lines of bamboo furniture , weaving, curtain/blind and toothpick with low-,middle- and high-class quality for livelihood and market needs. Both BPI and HBPI are excellently functioned for R. & D., pilot production, demonstration and training.
- Around 30 small-sized bamboo firms are incubated, their employees can get at least USD 8 per day. Bamboo agro-industry with supply-chain and value addition is created and sustained from the scratch with a total annual production value of around US $ 1 million, over 2000 jobs generated (around 80 % for women).
- Innovated methodologies iare ncluded: 1.A holistic approach. Rwanda bamboo Industry development is endorsed by both of government, based on intensive socia-economic and ecological survey, merged into Rwanda Vision 2020, grown from cottage industry to “modern” one, backed up by technical transfer and innovation, driven by livelihood and niche market needs, participated by all stakeholders. 2.A scientific approach. Bamboo species across-nation introduction and planting are based on scientific principle of site-match, bio-security and end industrial use; bamboo technologies transferred from China get further improvement, adaptation and innovation and ensure high bamboo productivity and realization of both ecological and commercial benefits. 3.A package training programs and promotion activities.(1)Two-side training . Around 1512 trainees in 150 training programs in Rwanda, 12 persons training in China. (2) Training in practicing and order production. (3) Technical service toured to different bamboo firms. (4) Exposition, tour visiting attended by Rwanda Primary Ministers, ambassadors, ministers /governors, and officials, businessmen, farmers from Rwanda and other 5 EAC countries.
- Project is featured with easy-learning, simple-operation, low-input, fast-return , and widely and successfully applied in all other 5 EAC countries.
- In 2015, the project is selected by MOFCOM as a sole excellent case of China aid project for global publicity for the event which President Xi Jinping co-chaired Global Women Summit on Sept. 27, 2015 in New York.
China also gets benefits, as it helps China to know intensively what bamboo situation, potential is in Rwanda, promotes China’s company investment on forestry in Rwanda.
The project helps realization of SDG 1(Poverty alleviation) SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 9.2 (Industry innovation), SDG 13.1( Climate action) ,SDG 15.1 (Forest restoration and sustainability ) and SDG 17 (Partnership for the Goals), also Rwanda Vision 2020 and 2050.