RWANDA: Bamboo-to-toilet paper factory, to be constructed

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RWANDA: Bamboo-to-toilet paper factory, to be constructed©Atcharaporn daisai/Shutterstock

The Rwandan authorities are about to launch a project to build a factory to manufacture several products, including toilet paper from bamboo. Negotiations are under way with several investors to finance the project.

Bamboo valuation is about to take on a whole new dimension in Rwanda. The authorities of this East African country want to build a large factory that will manufacture everyday products from bamboo. These include toilet paper, which is usually made from wood. The factory will also produce toothbrushes, clothes brushes, furniture and even some building materials.

The Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) is in talks with several investors for the financing of this sustainable development project. “We are in the final phase of negotiations with a potential investor to help set up a large factory in Masaka that will manufacture bamboo products and plant bamboo to supply the factory. We need to plant seven species of bamboo suitable for the factory,” says Jean-Pierre Mugabo, RWFA director.

A plan to enhance the value of bamboo in Rwanda

According to Jean-Pierre Mugabo, the feasibility studies for the construction of the bamboo beneficiation plant have already been carried out, as well as its construction plan. The director of the Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority even plans to start work on the plant site by 2021. The bamboo processed at the plant will be cultivated in the Eastern Province on an area of 2,119 hectares.

“There are already about 200 hectares of bamboo ready to be planted to help start up the plant,” says Jean-Pierre Mugabo. The official also says the government wants to increase bamboo production from 530 hectares in 2018 to 3,645 hectares in 2021 to supply the plant. In order to operate at full capacity, the future factory should be able to use 5,000 hectares of bamboo plantations.

The development of this project is in line with the Rwandan government’s desire to develop bamboo as a viable alternative to deforestation. To implement this policy, in April 2019 the Rwandan Ministry of the Environment signed an agreement with China Bamboo Aid Project to import and grow several varieties of bamboo in Rwanda. The bamboos will be used to make paper and packaging and will also be consumed as vegetables.

Jean Marie Takouleu

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