Why Rwanda is a market to target
Rwanda has a population of 11.8 million people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 8.096 billion dollars.
Rwanda’s economy grew by an average of 8 percent annually from 2002 to 2012, and then 6.9 percent growth in 2015 and 5.9 percent growth in 2016.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Rwanda’s GDP to grow between 6-7 percent in 2017 and 2018.
There are many positive big picture economic signs: inflation remains below 8 percent (pushed up from 5% in 2016), the country maintains its
reputation for low corruption, Rwanda's debt-to-GDP ratio, at 40 percent, is relatively low, and the percentage of foreign assistance in the
country’s annual budget has dropped from over 80 percent a decade ago to 38 percent in 2016/2017 National Budget. Rwanda enjoys relatively
high rankings in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index, which ranked Rwanda 59th out of 190 economies in the 2016 report—second-best in sub-Saharan Africa behind Mauritius.
Leading sectors include energy, agriculture, trade and hospitality, and financial services. Rwanda’s economy is overwhelmingly rural and heavily dependent on agriculture. Strong growth in the services sector, particularly construction and tourism, has contributed to overall economic growth. GDP per capita was USD 697 in 2015, according to the World Bank. The government’s economic priority is turning Rwanda into a regional trade, logistics, and conference hub. Pillars of this strategy include the construction of several new international business class hotels and a convention center in downtown Kigali, and expanding and investing in the fleet for the national carrier RwandAir.
Rwandan exports increased by 7.4 percent year-on-year in 2016, reaching USD 621.6 million according to UN ComTrade data. Commodities, particularly gold, tin, tantalum, tungsten, tea, and coffee, generated over 48 percent of Rwanda’s export revenue. Rwanda earned USD 73.5 million from tea exports in 2016, a nine percent increase from 2015. Over the same period, coffee accounted for USD 59.5 million worth of exports, down seven percent from the previous year. Major markets for coffee exports are the United States and Europe, while the Middle East and Pakistan are the main buyers of Rwandan tea. Tourism was, for the first time in 2016, the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, with total revenues estimated at USD 390 million in 2016, according to the National Bank of Rwanda.
This is due to successes in leisure tourism, which is the highest income generating sector, and followed by business tourism – Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE).
Rwanda benefits from low violent crime rates; its strong police and military provide a security umbrella that minimizes potential criminal activity and political conflicts. Leading reasons to consider the Rwandan market for U.S. export expansion include: