Rwanda has achieved impressive development progress since the 1994 genocide and civil war. It is now consolidating gains in social development and accelerating growth while ensuring that they are broadly shared to mitigate risks to eroding the country’s hard-won political and social stability.
Rwanda’s long-term development goals are embedded in its Vision 2020which seeks to transform Rwanda from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy by 2020.
In order to achieve the long-term development goals, the government of Rwanda has formulated a medium-term strategy. The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2)’s highest priority is growth acceleration and poverty reduction through its four thematic areas: economic transformation, rural development, productivity and youth employment, as well as accountable governance. The EDPRS 2 aims to achieve the following goals by 2018: (i) increasing GDP per capita to $1,000, (ii) reducing the poverty rate to below 30% and (iii) the reducing extreme poverty rate to below 9%. An underlying macroeconomic assumption is to accelerate annual GDP growth to 10% over the period 2013-2018.
These goals build on remarkable development success over the last decade including high growth, rapid poverty reduction and, since 2005, reduced inequality. Between 2001 and 2012, real GDP growth averaged 8.1% per annum. The poverty rate dropped from 59% in 2001 to 45% in 2011. Starting in mid-2012, Rwanda experienced a sudden and sharp decline in aid. Through appropriate fiscal and monetary policies, high growth and stability prevailed throughout 2012. The economy grew by 8% and inflation was contained below 6%.
Going forward, the private sector, still largely informal, will have to play a bigger role in ensuring economic growth. Poor infrastructure and the lack of access to electricity and limited generation capacity are some of the major constraints to private investment. Some reforms have been implemented successfully to improve the business environment and reduce the cost of doing business. As a result, the country was named top performer in the Rwanda Doing Business 2013 report, among the ten most improved economies in 2013 and Rwanda is now ranked as the third easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition, reducing the country dependency on foreign aid (40% of the current budget) through a mobilization of domestic resources is critical. While Rwanda has been effectively using aid for development, the country remains vulnerable to fluctuations in aid flows. The government has successfully increased the domestic revenues to GDP ratio in the past several years, but the level is still far below the regional average.
Last updated: October 2013
The World Bank Group (WBG) is formulating a new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) to be completed in the second half FY14. The new CPF will be jointly prepared by the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) in an effort to achieve greater synergies and catalyze higher volumes of private resources to support Rwanda’s development. It will be built on the Government’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and on its proposed Division of Labor (DoL) among Development Partners (DPs).
In accordance with the Rwanda Government's division of labor arrangements, the Bank's investment lending is focused on the energy; agriculture; and transport (including ICT) sectors.
The portfolio currently comprises 10 projects with net commitments of US$ 380 million. Approximate shares are agriculture (43%), energy (36%), and transport (6%). Other sectors include skills development, private sector development, public sector governance, and demobilization and reintegration. Project objectives have ranged from helping farmers manage marshland and hillside cropping to rehabilitating water supply systems and providing electricity to rural households.
Some of the key projects and programs funded by the Bank include the Rwanda Electricity Access Scale-up and Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) Development Project (US$70 million), Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (US$34 million) and Rwanda Second Support to Social Protection System (US$50 million).
Since the beginning of RSSP1 in 2001, over 6,700 hectares of marshlands have been rehabilitated or developed, and nearly 27,000 hectares of hillsides have been sustainably developed since 2010 by LWH. Maize yields have improved from 1.6 tons/ha to nearly five tons/ha; while rice yields have improved from three tons/ha to 6.30 tons/ha; and potato yields have improved from 7 tons/ha to nearly 20 tons/ha. In addition a number of rural infrastructures have been put in place to link productive areas to markets.
“The production of Irish potatoes has increased from 10.5 tons in 7 hectares to 42 tons in 13 hectares. Cooperative members attribute this boost in production to RSSPs support….When we look back at the traditional farming methods we used; we consider this as a great success,” said François Zigama, a farmer and President COAVIDEP Cooperative.
So far, of over 57,000 people who benefited from the RSSP projects, over 42% are females as are 48% of the 19,828 people who have benefited from the LWH. The impact created by these two programs is creating transformation in rural Rwanda
“In the past, I cultivated and harvested very little, I could not even save for the market. But after constructing terraces, I had a good harvest and a surplus for the market. I had an uncompleted house but now, I have been able to buy cement from the sales of my potato harvest and we are about to complete the house,” said Colette Nyiraneza, a farmer in Gatsibo.
Expanded access to electricity
The World Bank supports the Rwanda’s Electricity Access Rollout Program (EARP) , an electricity rollout program whose objective is to increase the number of households connected to the electricity grid to 350,000 by 2013 from the initial 110,000 in 2009. The electrification program has led to an extension of the number of working hours and reduced spoilage of fresh products due to availability of refrigeration and cooling.
Rural electrification also greatly contributed to improved service delivery, especially in health, education and administrative services with new services such as vaccinations and improved laboratory tests. “Before we got electricity, maternity activities were carried out in the dark, now that we have permanent electricity, all machines are functioning well and the lab is operating perfectly,” said Mukabadege Speciose Deputy Director of the Nyange Health Center.
The challenge is now to increase generation capacity. The Sustainable Energy Development Project provides advisory and technical support, including micro hydropower feasibility studies. International Finance Corporation (IFC) has provided loans to the private developers, and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has provided a guarantee to the 25MW Kivuwatt methane plant.
Strengthening social protection
The World Bank has helped to expand the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), the government’s main safety net program, to cover 43% of the country’s 416 geographical sectors in 2012, up from just 7% when the program was launched in 2008. The number of poor people benefiting from the program has grown from less than 10,000 to over half a million in the same period. Under the VUP, 68% of households which benefit from cash transfers are women headed households while 46% of participants in public works are women.
Forty-five year old widow and mother of three, Viviane Nyiramahigura is one of the many who benefit from public works employment under the VUP. “If it were not for the VUP public works program, there is no way I could have raised money to send my son to secondary school, pay the health insurance subscription for my family, or clothe and feed my children,” she said.