Unlocking Africa’s Singapore: Rwanda

Rwanda is a small, land-locked country located in east Africa. Bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda has a population of over 12 million people. The major economic sectors are tourism, mining and agriculture. The three official languages are Kinyarwanda, English and French.

Rwanda is known for the worst genocide in history. Over 1 million people died in only 100 days in 1994. The Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi was a massive killing of Tusti by Hutus; which left the country in ashes completely down with no infrastructure, no education, no health, nothing at all.

Post-Genocide

The 1994 genocide destroyed Rwanda’s fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population, particularly women, and eroded the country’s ability to attract private and external investment. However, If you come to the country today, the country has done a great deal in bringing herself back to life especially economically. In June 1998, Rwanda signed an Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility with the International Monetary Fund. Rwanda has also embarked upon an ambitious privatization program with the World Bank.

The country began its journey of economic growth in 2006, and the following year managed to register 8% economic growth, a record it has sustained since, turning it into one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. This sustained economic growth has succeeded in reducing poverty; with growth between 2006 and 2011 reducing the percentage of the country’s population living in poverty from 57% to 45%.The country’s infrastructure has also grown rapidly, with connections to electricity going from 91,000 in 2006 to 215,000 in 2011. With radical economic reforms within no time, Rwanda has managed to boost her economy more than any other country in the region. Reforms have made it easier for businesses to get credit, pay taxes, start a business and as a result have boosted Rwanda’s ratings in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report’. Rwanda is the most improved economy worldwide since 2005 (World Bank Doing Business Report 2014). It came in at 32nd out of 189 countries as per the 2014 report.

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In 2012, Rwanda introduced reforms to ease doing business in the country. According to Rwanda Development Board (A Rwandan organization aimed at transforming Rwanda into a dynamic global hub for business, investment, and innovation), it now takes 6 working hours to register your business. In 2013, the World Bank Doing Business report reflects Rwanda the 2nd easiest to do business in Africa after Mauritius. Rwanda is the easiest country to do business in East Africa. These reforms have been made possible by Government of Rwanda’s commitment to a politically stable country with well functioning institutions, rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption.

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If I can just save your breath, Rwanda has increased its GDP by four times from 1994. Results of the 2012 national census indicate that the country has GDP Percapita of $644, GDP (purchasing power parity) of $7.10 billion, and GDP (real) growth rate of 8%. The economy has since strengthened, with per-capita GDP estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $416 in 1994.

Current Trends

The country has set a major vision; “Vision 2020.” Among other important pillars, it intends to become a service and knowledge based nation by 2020.  This is a long-term economic development plan run alongside its medium-term strategy, the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) which gives a clear direction on how to move from poverty to a middle income country.

The chart below shows the three major sector of the country’s GDP:

From what is seen from the chart above, we can witness that the country is achieving its targets before its timeline. Services contribute the highest percentage (48%) and this is why I should call Rwanda the next Africa’s Singapore. Tourism-wise, in 2010 Rwanda hosted 666,000 visitors who generated US$ 200M- a 14% increase from 2009. The service sector of the country gained concrete momentum in 2010, becoming the country’s largest sector by economic output and contributing 43.6% of the country’s GDP.

The country has met most MDGs like the infant mortality MDG, and it is set to meet the targets for universal primary education, gender equality and under-five mortality. In line with commitment to increase nationwide access to ICT, the rollout of fiber optic cable has been completed. The use of technology was also extended to the agricultural sector with the establishment of E-Soko- an Agricultural Market Information System that has been deployed to provide farmers with reliable, up-to-date market information.

And this is indeed Africa’s Singapore! If all other African countries follow Rwanda’s lead, we might see today’s Europe in Africa soon.

About the Author:

Moses Asiimwe

Moses is a young Rwandan aged 25 years. He is a graduate to be for a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration from University of Rwanda, College of Business and Economics. He is currently the Operations Officer of Prime Insurance Ltd; a subsidiary of Roosewood Investments in Rwanda.

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Unlocking Africa’s Singapore: Rwanda

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