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Rwanda Development Board: Strategic Investment in Rwanda

The landlocked country of Rwanda is home to a variety of services and exports that position it as a leader in the global markets for both business and travel. Bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda is home to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), a government institution, which plans to accelerate the country’s economic development by aiding in private sector growth. The RDB, established in 2008, provides support through several services to ensure that Rwanda remains one of the most competitive places to do business in both Africa and the world.  

 RDB’s mission is to transform Rwanda into a global hub for business, investment, and innovation, which they plan on achieving by fast-tracking the county’s economic development through the continual support of private sector growth. The development board began as a merger of 8 government institutions, which came together to become a One Stop Shop for business and investments. Since then, they have expanded their global expertise and shown on an international level the quality practices which position Rwanda as a leading economy open for international business. As a result, the value of investments registered has tripled from USD 400 million in 2010, to US 2.006 billion in 2018. Services offered by RDB under their One-Stop Center include business and investment registration, visa facilitation, environmental impact assessment (EIA), tax incentives management, investment promotion, investment deals negotiation, export and special economic zones (SEZ) development, tourism and conservation, and private sector skills development.  

 RDB also offers a variety of exports that continue to play a crucial role in the economic expansion of the country by contributing greatly to gross domestic product (GDP) figures. One of the key products produced and exported in Rwanda under RBD is coffee. Coffee plays a significant role in the economy of the country, as 20,00-22,00 metric tons of coffee is produced every year. Supplying major markets in the US, Europe and Asia, Rwandan coffee has grown to be a massive online export for Rwanda, particularly through its partnership with the e-commerce giant Alibaba. This partnership has seen the sales volumes of Rwandan coffee grow 700% on Tmall, Alibaba’s cross-border B2B platform. Furthermore, the country is also a key exporter of tea. Since 1952, Rwanda has been growing tea and has now come to be a major contributor towards the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Producing 30,00 metric tons annually, tea growing has allowed Rwanda to claim a major stake in the African Tea Trade Association with its record prices, whilst accessing international markets in the Middle East, Pakistan, United Kingdom, and Kazakhstan.  

 The RDB also oversee the mining, horticulture and handcraft goods and services going out of the country which all play key roles in the development of Rwanda. However, it is the manufacturing and agriculture processing that play some of the most crucial roles in the country’s development. Agriculture processing contributes up to a third of Rwanda’s GDP and is a major source of employment and income in Rwanda. Rwanda’s location makes it a great climate for agriculture, so can produce a diverse range of agricultural commodities suitable for processing both within and outside of the country. Within Rwanda, agriculture processing provides food and other necessities to its people through their advancing technologies which reinforce the high-quality standard of their products. Outside of Rwanda, pyrethrum is exported worldwide as its flowers are used as a natural insecticide for pests and plant diseases.  

 Manufacturing is also a growing industry in Rwanda, and as of 2019, accounted for 17% of the country’s GDP. Through their gradual diversification from basic manufacturing, RDB has helped develop the manufacturing sector towards the growing production of fast-moving consumer goods, construction materials, furniture laboratory equipment, electronic goods, and automotive manufactured goods. The economy of Rwanda depends heavily on this sector and therefore is a crucial pillar of RDB’s focus on its exports due to the big markets that can be accessed in the East African Community (EAC). Therefore, the importing and exporting of manufactured goods has placed Rwanda in a key strategic position for the development of the country’s economy due to its high-quality processing and production of goods.  

 To continue to develop the Rwandan economy, the Government of Rwanda announced the launch of the Manufacture and Build to Recover Program aimed to attract more private sector investments to the country. The project was first introduced in 2020, to boost economic recovery efforts by attracting private sector investments with specific incentives for the manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and real estate development sectors. Since the programme began it has brought in over USD 1.7 billion and created over 36,000 jobs. Therefore, in line with the announcement of the extension of the project in March 2023, the RDB has ensured that members of the private sector continue to benefit from the specialised incentives that the program offers, and shows its continuing commitment to the economic development of Rwanda. 

 There is clear evidence that the RDB has had a significant impact on the economy of Rwanda, as it has grown expansively since its establishment with a current annual GDP average rate of 8% for the past decade. Furthermore, the GDP per capita grew to USD 787 in 2018, from USD 774 in 2017. The target per capita set by the RDB is USD 1,382, which they aim to achieve by 2024. As a country, Rwanda consistently emerges as the top global reformer in the annual World Bank Doing Business Reports, and so with the data to support them, RDB continues to strive for greatness to put Rwanda’s economy in first position. Rwanda is a growing force in global markets for a variety of services and exports, and with the help of the RDB, it is smashing GDP targets. Consequently, Rwanda remains among the most competitive African countries to do business in due to the efficient goods and labour markets in which they facilitate, which when combined with the country’s stable political situation, sees Rwanda as a hub for steady and reliable economic growth.