Rwanda is promoting tourism by sponsoring Arsenal Football Club ©Arsenal FC/Getty Images
Rwanda is promoting tourism by sponsoring Arsenal Football Club ©Arsenal FC/Getty Images

Country spotlight: Rwanda

13 July 2018

Population
11.9m

Area
26,338 km²

The helicopter view
This small country in the centre of Africa has a lush landscape, and is home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys. It experienced an horrific genocide in 1994, but President Paul Kagame and his government have achieved political stability and are rebuilding Rwanda and its economy.

Economic outlook
The World Bank ranks it as 41 out of 190 countries for ease of doing business. It aims to become a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy by 2020, and the IMF expects GDP growth of 6-7%.

Biggest investors
Rwanda received more than $1 billion in foreign aid in 2016, but it is looking to the private sector to play a bigger role in economic growth. This year, VW opened an assembly plant in Kigali, with plans to export cars to other parts of Africa.

Supply chain
Issues Rural infrastructure and hillside irrigation have improved agriculture. In 2017, Rwanda exported 2.5 tonnes of high-end horticulture products a week to Europe, while gold and tea are its top exports.

Strengths
The economy has grown and living standards improved, and a sponsorship deal was recently signed with Arsenal, which some say could reap 10 times its worth in tourism.

Challenges
Personal liberty has been questioned. US investigators claim they were deported after discovering atrocities committed by Kagame’s party last year. Poor infrastructure could also hinder investment.

Bottom line
Rwanda’s exports are increasing, tourism is now generating almost half of GDP, and untapped investment opportunities include energy, manufacturing and IT. It is seen by many as a model African state – despite its authoritarian leader – and while its 2017 per capita income was only $724 a year, says the IMF, it has a growing middle class.

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