Rwanda - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2021-11-11

The government is committed to developing eCommerce and has put in place measures to protect users of online services by adopting global standards like the proprietary information security standard, which is the payment card industry data security standard.  Approximately 23 percent of Rwanda’s population has access to the internet, most commonly via mobile phone.  Internet access and speed are improving, driven by the rollout of a national 4G LTE network and fiber optic lines.  Korea Telecom has signed a 35-year agreement to manage the national network.  Cell and internet providers such as MTN, Airtel and Liquid must buy access from Korea Telecom.

The government provides services to both citizens and businesses through e-government portals such as Irembo, which is the preferred method for paying taxes and fees.  Many citizens and businesses still use traditional physical interactions, and many transactions are in cash.  The government has heavily promoted the use of mobile money and internet banking to contain the spread of COVID-19.

eCommerce is relatively new in Rwanda, but the sector is growing quickly as local tech start-ups and international payers have entered Rwanda’s market in the past few years.  At present, the use of eCommerce for “Business to Client” remains limited for the most part to the airline, hospitality, banking, food delivery, and courier services sectors.  China and the United Arab Emirates are the main eCommerce commercial partners and online ordering typically goes through Alibaba and Ali Express.   Most Rwandan importers use these two long-term suppliers and orders are transmitted by email and phone.  Payments are transmitted through Western Union, MoneyGram, and HubShil.  In April 2021, Dubai Ports (DP) World launched a new e-commerce platform, DUBY.com, to serve as digital trade corridor in Rwanda.  

“Business to Business” eCommerce is limited in the goods market but more advanced in the services sector, particularly with respect to financial services (interbank market).  Despite limited skilled labor in general, services in software engineering and web-designing are widely available.  Carnegie Mellon University opened a campus in Kigali in 2012, its first in sub-Saharan Africa, and currently offers masters-level courses in information and communication technologies.  Detailed information on intellectual property in Rwanda can be accessed here..

Popular eCommerce sites include:

  • VUB: https://www.vubavuba.rw/  grocery, food, travel, real estate and miscellaneous)
  • Gurisha: https://gurisha.com/?v=5c6dc3d43650 (classifieds)
  • Grocewheels: https://grocewheels.com/ (Grocery)
  • Carisoco: https://www.carisoko.com/ (vehicles)
  • Dubuy: https://www.dubuy.com/