Rwanda - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities

Overview of best prospect sectors, major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities.

Last published date: 2021-11-11

Market access

Rwanda has access to a regional market of 146 million consumers in the EAC and 460 million in COMESA. Rwanda also enjoys easy access to the eastern DRC market of approximately 35 million people.

Energy

The government has outlined a strategy to achieve universal access to electricity by 2024, supplied by a roughly even mix of on-grid and off-grid connections.  While Rwanda’s independent power producer projects are expected to generate more power than projected demand over the next decade, opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in off-grid projects along with transmission and distribution.  

Infrastructure

The government, in pursuit of its goal of positioning Rwanda as a regional hub for tourism, services, and logistics, has completed a number of high-profile infrastructure projects like the Kigali Convention Center and several international business class hotels.  The government’s ambitious plans for future projects include a new international airport (Bugesera); “Kigali Innovation City;” tourist facilities; wastewater treatment and potable water facilities; and big-ticket items such as railways to Tanzania and regional oil pipelines.

Construction

The construction sector is booming, especially in Kigali.  There is a significant gap in domestic production of concrete, steel, and other construction materials relative to demand and a need for the construction of affordable homes that meet local standards.  

Agriculture

Rwanda’s agriculture contributes 62.3 percent of total employment in Rwanda (occupying 71 percent of all females employed compared to 53 percent of males), but it contributes less than one-third of the country’s GDP.  The government hopes to boost that figure through the addition of high-value horticultural processing (including coffee washing, roasting, and packaging), expansion of irrigation and mechanization, and increased production and processing of value-added agriculture goods (e.g., dairy, tomato ketchup, mushrooms, and honey).  Rwanda also aims to move from subsistence crops to export oriented commercial farming.

Information Communication and Technology

Rwanda continues to be one of the fastest growing African countries in ICT and there are several avenues for growth for the ICT sector, including e-commerce and e-services, mobile technologies, and applications development and automation.  In addition, the government hopes to make Rwanda a regional center for the training of ICT professionals and research.  The government has stated its intent to provide internet access to the entire population.  Rwanda has installed over 5,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable throughout the country with regional links to neighboring countries.  It is one of the few countries in Africa to have built a national high-speed 4G LTE wireless broadband network.  Adequate numbers of skilled IT professionals are still lacking, but Carnegie Mellon University has established a campus in Kigali with a focus on this sector.  Korea Telecom holds a 35-year contract to manage Rwanda’s national telecom network.

Tourism

The government projects high tourism growth rates over the next several years as the country rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Opportunities exist in hospitality, entertainment, tour operations, and training services.  Rwanda’s safe environment, central location (less than five hours from most African countries by air), increasing number of direct flights to multiple regional and international locations, the Kigali Convention Center, and a growing list of business class and luxury hotels make it a prime destination for business, event, and conference tourism in the region.  To promote tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government recently launched a push to expand domestic tourism by lowering prices.

Mining

The mining sector has expanded since privatization in 2007.  The Rwandan government has set high targets for mineral exports over the next several years.  Rwanda offers opportunities in exploration, extraction, and processing.  Potential investors should note that Rwanda is subject to Section 1502 of the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.  Emerging technologies (especially electric vehicles) are dependent on the tin, tungsten, and tantalum (the 3Ts) that Rwanda produces.

Education

Rwanda suffers from a shortage of skilled labor, including accountants, lawyers, engineers, tradespeople, and technicians.  Accordingly, the government welcomes investment in high-quality education from the primary to university levels. Carnegie Mellon University established a campus in Rwanda for Masters-level engineering students that will contribute to innovation on the continent.

Alternative Finance

Rwanda has established the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC), an ecosystem that seeks to attract international financial service providers and funds to Rwanda.  It is modeled on those available in advanced regional markets such as Mauritius, Marrakesh, and Johannesburg.  A number of international firms have already joined or officially indicated intent to join.