Whenever Rwanda is mentioned, not many people would remember the country for any other thing except its civil war and genocide that claimed over 800,000 lives and the destruction of properties in a fashion that made experts to consider the economic rise of the country to be remote. What many people who judged Rwanda based on the events of the civil war and genocide didn’t understand was that the country had its better times in the 1960s and 1970s.Their ability to keep inflation rates low and their prudent management of resources helped them to stay stable. Their annual GDP growth rate was at 6.5% in the 1970s. Rwanda showed great promise.
The GDP fell to 2.9% from 1979 to 1985 and remained stagnant from this period down to the 1990s. The fall of world coffee price would trigger off bad times for the country. This led to two major devaluations and the partial introduction of the IMF Structural Adjustment Programme which many analysts condemn as being part of the country’s challenge. The five year civil war that ended with the genocide of 1994 dealt a great blow on the country’s economy.
Twenty two years after, Rwanda is rebuilding itself from all sectors and is once more showing great promise. From the socio-political sector, Rwanda is a leading country when it comes to nation’s compliance to the global affirmative action in the public sector as more women have gained influence in the country’s public sector. Currently, out of 80 parliamentary seats, women occupy 51. 97% of Rwandan children attend primary school, which is the highest rate in Africa. UNESCO has even named Rwanda as one of the top three countries with the highest access to education.
On the economic front, more than $307.4 million was brought into Rwanda for reconstruction purposes after the civil war. This led to the building of better school structures, hospitals and other public buildings that have so far improved the lives of the people. The implementation of its privatization policy has seen a growing increase in private sector engagement in the country’s economy. Its responsible leadership and stable governance which have shown greater support for investments had since attracted even more investments from China, France, Netherlands, Belgium and the USA.
Since the end of the war, Rwanda had gone back to its economic base, which is agriculture and has improved its output. Agriculture now contributes up to 40% to its GDP since 2012. In the year 2000, it produced 14,778,560 tons of coffee which far exceeds its pre-war variations of 35,000 and 40,000 tons. The country’s growth rate since 2006 has been encouraging as it has managed to grow at 8%. Rwanda is among the eight fastest growing economies in Africa. The sustained economic growth rate from 2006-2011 has reduced the poverty line from 57% to 45%. Connection to electricity grew from 91,000 in 2006 t0 215,000 in 2011 and the Rwandan ministry of power believes that the number doubled in 2015.
In the Rwandan economic update (REU) launched in July 2015, the World Bank projected an economic growth rate of 7.6% in 2016. The economy’s growth rate recovered from 4.7% in 2013, the lowest growth since 2003 to 7.0% in 2014. The poverty rate is to decline from 64% of 2011 to 54% in 2016, thus moving approximately one million people above the poverty line. All these improvements according to the World Bank were inspired by private and government consumptions and also an increase in the service sector. The developments in the monetary sector have helped the economy.
From the World Bank Report, bank lending has recovered from the pre-aid shortfall level. According to Carolyn Turk, Country Manager for Rwanda, the impacts of the global fall in oil price shows positive influences on both the country’s inflation rate and imports as transportation prices declined by 4%, which brought down the overall Consumer Price Index (CPI). Its energy imports started to decline since November 2015, resulting in energy import values drop of 20-40% until April 2015. Even though the World Bank Report puts the Rwandan GDP investments at 24%, which is slightly higher than those of many other lower/medium income countries, it needs to create more supportive policies for the banks to keep financing infrastructure. More foreign and local investments should be encouraged through the creating of better investment friendly environment and stronger legal institutions that would support and protect businesses. Many economies have fallen and never recovered, Rwanda by it achievements have shown that it is different.