Rwanda

GDP (US$ Billion)

9.51 (2018)

World Ranking 143/193

GDP Per Capita (US$)

787 (2018)

World Ranking 176/192

Economic Structure

(in terms of GDP composition, 2018)

Services
(47.80%)
Industry
(16.23%)
Agriculture
(29.04%)

External Trade (% of GDP)

51.5 (2018)

Currency (Period Average)

Rwandan Franc

899.35per US$ (2019)

Political System

Multiparty republic

  • Rwanda, also known as the “land of a thousand hills”, is a small landlocked country in east-central Africa with one of the highest population densities in sub-Saharan Africa.
     
  • Agriculture is the backbone of Rwanda’s economy, accounting for 29% of its GDP and over two-third of the labour force in 2018. Traditional goods such as tea and coffee are the major exports while cassava, potatoes and beans are the most productive crops. Although traditional goods are still important export earners for the country, non-traditional merchandise exports such as chili increased gradually in the last decade.
     
  • The outlook for construction sector is one of the brightest among other sectors due to the increased government investment in infrastructure development. The new Bugesera Airport started construction in August 2017 with an annual capacity of 4.5 million passengers is expected to complete by the end of 2020. The Kigali Innovation City project co-financed by the African Development Bank was launched in 2016, seeking to build a technology innovation hub with facilities such as innovation lab centre and office buildings for start-ups. The country also started its Green City project in the beginning of 2020, which will equip with clean technologies and innovations for green and climate resilient urbanisation. It will include electric vehicles, sustainable waste treatment facilities, urban forests and affordable housing, among others.
     
  • Rwanda enjoyed strong economic growth at an average annual rate of 7.5% from 2008 to 2018, high ranking in the ease of doing business (#38 out of 190 countries according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report) and a reputation of low corruption. With its business-friendly reputation, Rwanda attracts foreign direct investments particularly in the manufacturing and construction sector. According to UNCTAD, cumulative FDI stock in Rwanda amounted to US$2.3 billion in 2018, up 15% from 2017. 
  • Rwanda’s ICT sector has been growing rapidly over the last five years, witnessing a 13% value-added increase in 2014-2018, according to a World Bank report. Rwanda has achieved impressive 4G mobile network coverage at 96.6%, by leveraging public-private partnership (PPP) between the Rwandan government and Korean Telecom.
     
  • In October 2019, Rwanda’s Mara Group launched its first “Made in Africa” smartphones, giving a boost to the country’s ambitions to become a regional technology hub. The entire manufacturing process, from motherboard to phone packaging, are all done within the newly-opened factory in Rwanda.
     
  • Rwanda is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It is also a member of the East African Community (EAC), along with Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan. In March 2018, Rwanda signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with other member states of the African Union, committing to boost African economies through trade liberalization in the region.
     
  • China has remained one of the important development partners of Rwanda since they established diplomatic relations back in the 1970s. In July 2018, Rwanda and China signed multiple bilateral agreements regarding cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The agreements also included a mutual visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders and covered other sectors such as infrastructure, cultural and human development cooperation. In March 2018, two China-funded projects kicked off in supporting Rwanda’s infrastructure development, including the upgrade of the Bugesera International Airport Road and the Huye-Kibeho-Munini Road. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s FDI stock in the Rwanda doubled in five years to reach US$147 million in 2018.
     
  • E-commerce is growing in Rwanda with the participation of local and international players such as Yubeyi and China’s Alibaba Group. In October 2018, Rwanda signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba Group to establish an electronic world trade platform (eWTP) in Rwanda, the first in Africa. The eWTP offers Rwandan SMEs with operational infrastructure such as commerce logistics and cloud computing. Five months after the launch of the eWTP, the National Agricultural Export Development Board of Rwanda opened a Rwanda pavilion on Tmall.com, dedicating to bring Rwandan goods such as coffee to Chinese customers.
     
  • In an effort to introduce and promote Chinese culture and language in Rwanda, the Confucius Institute at University of Rwanda was established in 2009 with a pioneer class of about 100 students. The number of registered students has increased to over 5,000 in 2019.
Hong Kong’s Trade with Rwanda
(US$ million) 2017 2018 2019
Value Growth (%) Value Growth (%) Value Growth (%)
Total exports 41 -18.4 49 19.3 65.4 33.5
Domestic exports 0.005 536.2 0.001 -76.7 * -83
Re-exports 41 -18.5 49 19.4 65.4 33.5
Imports 0.5 22.4 0.6 18.4 0.6 -8.9
Total trade 41.6 -18.1 49.6 19.3 65.9 32.9

* Insignificant
Source: Hong Kong Trade Statistics, Census & Statistics Department

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