Economic and Political Overview

flag Rwanda Rwanda: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Rwanda registered a good economic performance over the last years, and thanks to investments in education and infrastructure, it reached the Millennium development goals. In 2022, the economy continued to show signs of recovery from the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, with GDP growing an estimated 6%, thanks to the service sector and the measures taken to fight back the coronavirus. Growth is expected to continue in 2023 and 2024, when GDP should grow by 6.7% and 7%, respectively.

In 2022, inflation significantly increased to 9.5%, but it is expected to decrease to 8% in 2023 and 5% in 2024. The debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 68.1% in 2022, and it is expected to continue to rise in the coming years, reaching 68.6% in 2023 and 69.4% in 2024. The country's current account deficit also increased in 2022, reaching 12.6%, but it should decrease to 11.7% in 2023 and 10.3% in 2024. With over 70% of the population employed in agriculture, household incomes benefited from the favourable prices of export crops in 2022, which resulted in higher household expenditure. Public investment, through the national strategic transformation plan (NST), targeted infrastructures related to trade such as the construction of the airport of Bugesera, to help the restart of the economy. The NST focuses on economic, social and governance transformation, according to the aspirations of the plan Vision 2050. As part of the latter, the government is developing new medium-term development strategies aimed at turning the country in a country with intermediate high income status before 2035, while the “Made in Rwanda” program aims to promote local production in order to reduce imports.

Despite the progress made, Rwanda remains a very poor country, where around 40% of the population lives below the national poverty line. In 2022, the unemployment rate in the country was at 24.3%, according to the government's Labour Force Survey, and increase from the previous year, when that rate stood at 23.5%

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 10.1911.0712.7013.1513.63
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -3.410.
GDP per Capita (USD) 804854958970984
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 65.666.664.467.171.1
Inflation Rate (%) 7.70.813.98.25.0
Current Account (billions USD) -1.23-1.21-1.48-1.73-1.64
Current Account (in % of GDP) -12.1-10.9-11.6-13.2-12.0

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

The Rwandan economy depends on subsistence economy, tea and coffee exports, and tourism. The mining sector is also a pillar of the economy: the country is one of the largest producers of tantalum, used, among other things, in the construction of mobile phones. Agriculture is the main economic activity of the Rwandan people, directly providing employment for 62.3% of the total population (World Bank). The sector accounts for 24.1% of GDP and accounts for around 80% of foreign income from exports of coffee, tea, hides and skins, horticulture and pyrethrum (chrysanthemum-based insecticide). About 61% of the Rwandan soil is suitable for agriculture because the soils are fertile, but food production often does not meet demand, requiring imports. In 2022, Rwanda's agricultural sector greatly benefited from an expansion in the country's planted area and favourable weather, which lead to above-average yields and an increase in agricultural export sales.

The industrial sector is strongly linked to the processing of primary agricultural products. It represents 20.3% of GDP and 8.6% of employment. It is estimated that almost 70% of industries in Rwanda are located in Kigali, with little activity in the urban centers of the hinterland. The government is committed to gradually privatizing the productive sector and promoting the development of the private sector.

The tertiary sector contributes around 47.8% of GDP and employs 29.1% of the total workforce. According to the government's "Vision 2020" plan, services could become the main driver of the Rwandan economy. The financial sector is made up of seven commercial banks and one development bank; the “Financial Sector Development Program” aims to deepen financial services and increase their reach among Rwandan citizens. In addition, Rwanda seeks to support the growth of the tourism industry and to become a regional leader in information and communication technologies. Tourism has become an important source of foreign exchange (around USD 300 million), in particular thanks to the increase in the number of international conferences, and should continue to grow thanks to significant investments in infrastructure, such as the construction project of Bugesera Airport. The expansion of RwandAir, the national airline, with the opening of new routes, should accompany the development of the sector. Furthermore, while the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impeded services, the sector registered an overall growth in 2022, with the recovery being mainly driven by travel and hospitality services.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 62.3 8.6 29.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 24.1 20.3 47.8
Value Added (Annual % Change) 6.4 13.4 11.9

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Rwandan Franc (RWF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR 22.1724.1225.3825.3423.97

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


Find out all the exchange rates daily on our service Currency Converter.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Rwanda's economic policy is open to foreign trade which accounts for 53.9% of the GDP (World Bank, 2021). In addition to benefiting from the U.S.-Rwanda Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which entered into force in 2012, Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) - one of the most dynamic regional communities in Africa - the Common Markets of Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) and the WTO. Custom duties are relatively low in the country (7.3% on average) and non-tariff barriers are virtually non-existent.

Rwanda mainly exports petroleum oils (13.1%), tea (9%), coffee (8.2%), gold (7.3%), and precious and semi-precious stones (7.1%). The country's imports are led by petroleum oils (18.4%), telephone sets (4.8%), rice (2.5%), medicaments (2.3%), and wheat and meslin (2.1%). Rwanda’s leading export detonations are the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (33.6%), Switzerland (8.8%), Hong Kong (6.9%), the UAE (4.6%), and the UK (4.4%); with imports come chiefly from China (17.4%), followed by India (10.2%), the UAE (9.8%), Uganda (8.5%), and Kenya (6.2%).

Due to its strong growth and demand for manufactured goods, Rwanda has a structural trade deficit. In 2021, the country exported USD 1.5 billion worth of goods, while it imported USD 2.8 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 1.6 billion. When accounting for services, the country's trade deficit reached USD 1.7 billion, as exports as services totalled USD 579 million and imports amounted to USD 666 million.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20172018201920202021
Imports of Goods (million USD) 2,3232,4642,6592,5422,895
Exports of Goods (million USD) 1,0501,1221,2411,4081,530
Imports of Services (million USD) 904936910543666
Exports of Services (million USD) 729648747295579
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 43.310.319.9-9.22.8
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 33.134.736.135.834.8
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 20.521.121.819.319.1
Trade Balance (million USD) -974-1,155-1,465-1,650-1,659
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,167-1,298-1,482-1,649-1,746
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 53.755.857.955.153.9

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
Democratic Republic of Congo 33.6%
Switzerland 8.8%
Hong Kong SAR, China 6.9%
United Arab Emirates 4.6%
United Kingdom 4.4%
See More Countries 41.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
China 18.4%
India 10.2%
United Arab Emirates 9.8%
Uganda 8.5%
Kenya 6.2%
See More Countries 46.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


Main Products

1.0 bn USD of products exported in 2018
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 13.1%
Tea, whether or not flavouredTea, whether or not flavoured 9.0%
Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated;...Coffee, whether or not roasted or decaffeinated; coffee husks and skins; coffee substitutes containing coffee in any proportion 8.2%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 7.3%
Precious stones and semi-precious stones, whether...Precious stones and semi-precious stones, whether or not worked or graded, but not strung, mounted or set, ungraded precious stones and semi-precious stones, temporarily strung for convenience of transport (excl. diamonds and imitation precious stones and semi-precious stones) 7.1%
See More Products 55.2%
2.8 bn USD of products imported in 2018
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 18.4%
Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular...Telephone sets, incl. telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks; other apparatus for the transmission or reception of voice, images or other data, incl. apparatus for communication in a wired or wireless network [such as a local or wide area network]; parts thereof (excl. than transmission or reception apparatus of heading 8443, 8525, 8527 or 8528) 4.8%
RiceRice 2.5%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed...Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses "incl. those in the form of transdermal administration" or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 2.3%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 2.1%
See More Products 69.9%

Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data


To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.


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Sources of General Economic Information

Official list of ministries
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning
Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Ressources
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Ministry of Infrastructure
Statistical Office
National Institute of Statistics Rwanda
Central Bank
National Bank of Rwanda
Stock Exchange
Rwanda Exchange Stock
Search Engines
Google Rwanda
Economic Portals
Fortune of Africa Rwanda
Financial Times Rwanda
The New Times

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President: Paul Kagame (since April 2000, re-elected in 2017) – RPF
Prime Minister: Édouard Ngirente (since 30 August 2017) - PSD
Next Election Dates
Presidential: 2024
Parliamentary: 2023
Main Political Parties
Rwanda is a one-party dominant state with the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front – a Tutsi nationalist and populist party which overthrew the Hutu-led government in Rwanda) in power. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. Some of the other important political parties are:
- Social Democratic Party (centre-left)
- Liberal Party
- Social Party Imberakuri (social-democratic)
- Democratic Green Party (green-liberal)
Type of State
Rwanda is a democratic republic.
Executive Power
The President of Rwanda is the head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers exercise the executive power. The President is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term, which can be renewed indefinetly, and appoints the Prime Minister and all other members of Cabinet.
Legislative Power
Legislative power in Rwanda vests in Parliament, which consists of two chambers: Chamber of Deputies, whose 80 members are elected every 5 years; and the Senate, whose 26 members are elected or appointed for a mandate of 8 years (art. 64 of the Rwandan Constitution). Out of the 26 members of Senate, 12 elected by provincial councils, 8 are appointed by the President to ensure the representation of historically marginalised communities, 4 are appointed by the National Consultative Forum of Political Organisations, and 2 are elected by the staff of two universities (a public institution and a private one).

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of the Rwanda, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


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Latest Update: September 2023