Why is Rwanda one of the most business friendly countries in Africa?

Rwanda is a landlocked state, bounded by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a population of 12.9 million inhabitants and there are four official languages: Rwanda (Kinyarwanda), English, French, and Swahili (Kiswahili).


Since the end of 20th century, a stabilised the political situation allowed the Government to place the economy as a top priority, in order to become one of the best business environments in Africa.


According to Doing Business Report, the country is ranked in 2nd position within the sub-Saharan region, only behind Mauritania. When it comes to the Global rank, Rwanda is ranked in 38th position, just behind countries like Israel (35), Switzerland (36) and Slovenia (37) and ahead of Portugal (39) and Poland (40).


With regard to foreign trade, in 2019 Rwanda was the 151st largest exporting economy, with a total of $1.16 billion according International Trade Centre.


Behind Marshall Islands (150) with $1.25 billion and followed by Tajikistan (152) with $1.16 billion. The countries within its geographical area of influence like Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and United Republic of Uganda were placed in positions 83rd, 113rd, 123rd respectively.


Imports reached $3.19 billion in 2019. The trade balance deficit stood at $2,03 billion.

Trade in Goods Rwanda Export Wings


In 2019, the top exports of Rwanda was:

  1. Gold: $303 million (26%)
  2. Petroleum oils (excl. Crude oils): $149 million (13%)
  3. Tea: $86 million (7%)
  4. Coffee, incl. roasted or decaffeinated: $74 million (6%)
  5. Niobium, tantalum, vanadium, or zirconium minerals: $45 million (4%)


As for the imported products in 2019, the top 5 of imports was:

  1. Petroleum oils (excl. Crude oils): $ 484 million (15%)
  2. Gold: $ 242 million (8%)
  3. Telephone electrical devices: $ 95 million (3%)
  4. Medicines: $ 81 million (3%)
  5. Cane or beet sugar and sucrose: $ 75 million (2%)


Regarding bilateral relations, Rwanda has 2 regional trade agreements signed and in force, the “East African Community (EAC)” and the “Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)”.


Its main trading partners (X+M) are China, which represents 15% of exchanges, followed by United Arab Emirates with 14% of exchanges and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 9% of exchanges.


The main destinations for exports were:

  • Congo, Democratic Republic (32%)
  • United Arab Emirates (30%)
  • Uganda (5%)
  • Switzerland (5%)
  • Pakistan (3%)


The main origins of imports were:


During the period 2015-2019, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) received by Rwanda reached the average annual figure of $293 million.

FDI Rwanda Export Wings


Useful information:


Data from 2019, other years are stated. Need more information about the Rwandan market, please contact me xavireverter@exportwings.com.




Photo by Reagan M. on Unsplash

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