• Country Overview

    Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west, Tanzania to the east, Uganda to the north, and Burundi to the south. According to World Bank data, the population of Rwanda is approximately 11.61 million, of which 52% are women. With the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, Rwanda has been able to make important economic and structural reforms, and sustain its economic growth rates over the last decade.

    Political Context

    Rwanda has maintained political stability since 1994. The last parliamentary elections held in September 2013 saw 64% of the seats filled by female candidates, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front maintain absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies. President Paul Kagame is serving his second and last term, and presidential elections are due in August 2017. However, in December 2015, the Rwandan constitution was amended to allow the president to run for a third seven-year term in 2017. Kagame has since confirmed he will stand for re-election.

    Economic Overview

    Rwanda’s long-term development goals are defined in a strategy entitled “Vision 2020”. The strategy seeks to transform the country from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy with a middle-income country status by 2020.

    In order to achieve these long-term development goals, the Government of Rwanda has formulated a medium-term strategy. The second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2) outlines an overarching goal of growth acceleration and poverty reduction through four thematic areas: economic transformation, rural development, productivity and youth employment, and accountable governance. The EDPRS 2 aims to achieve the following goals by 2018: raise gross domestic product (GDP) per capita to $1,000; have less than 30% of the population below the poverty line; and have less than 9% of the population living in extreme poverty.

    These goals build on remarkable development successes over the last decade which include high growth, rapid poverty reduction and, since 2005, reduced inequality. Between 2001and 2015, real GDP growth averaged at about 8% per annum. Recovering from the 2012 aid shortfall, the economy grew 7% in 2014 and 7.5% in 2015, up from 4.7% in 2013.

    Development Challenges

    Going forward, the private sector, which is still largely informal, will have to play a bigger role in ensuring economic growth. Poor infrastructure and lack of access to electricity are some of the major constraints to private investment. As Rwanda’s investment relies significantly on foreign aid, stable inflows of this foreign aid are critical to keep the current high investment rate at around 25% of GDP.

    In addition, reducing the country’s dependency on foreign aid (which represents 30% to 40% of the budget) through domestic resource mobilization is critical. While Rwanda has been effectively using aid for development, the country remains vulnerable to fluctuations in aid flows.

    Social Context

    Rwanda met most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the end of 2015. Strong economic growth was accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards, evidenced by a two-thirds drop in child mortality and the attainment of near-universal primary school enrolment. A strong focus on homegrown policies and initiatives contributed to a significant improvement in access to services and in human development indicators. The poverty rate dropped from 44% in 2011 to 39% in 2014 while inequality measured by the Gini coefficient reduced from 0.49 in 2011 to 0.45 in 2014.

    Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017

  • World Bank Group Engagement in Rwanda

    The World Bank Group’s (WBG) Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for 2014-2018 is framed around three thematic areas:

    1. Accelerating economic growth that is private-sector driven and creates jobs
    2. Improving the productivity and incomes of the poor through rural development and social protection
    3. Supporting government accountability through public-financial management and decentralization.

    The CPS is 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 builds on the government’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) and on its proposed Division of Labor (DoL) among Development Partners (DPs).

    The World Bank Group portfolio in Rwanda currently includes 10 national projects with a net commitment of $844.35 million. Rwanda also participates in six regional projects with a national commitment amount of $204 million. Project objectives have ranged from helping farmers manage marshland and hillside cropping, to supporting the strengthening of the social protection system and providing electricity to rural households.

    International Finance Corporation (IFC)

    IFC’s program in Rwanda covers four key areas; capital and financial markets development, infrastructure and natural resources, manufacturing, agribusiness and services and, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) development and investment climate reform. Through the Rwanda Entrepreneurship Development, IFC participates in a $6 million advisory program focusing on linkages in the tourism sector, non-farming jobs with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, setting an $8 million small and medium enterprises fund, and a center for business solutions.

    Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

    MIGA currently has one active project (KivuWatt) in Rwanda with at total gross exposure of $95.4 million. MIGA remains open for business in Rwanda across all of its political risk insurance product lines, including transfer restriction, expropriation, breach of contract, war, civil disturbance, and the non-honoring of sovereign obligations.

    Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017

  • Some of the key projects and programs funded by the World Bank Group (WBG) include the Rwanda Electricity Access Scale-up and Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) Development Project ($130 million), Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) ($69 million), and the Third Support to the Rwanda Social Protection System ($70 million).

    Moving Towards Market-Oriented Agriculture

    Through a three-phased Adaptable Program Loan (APL), the WBG supports The Rural Sector Support Project (RSSP) which focused on intensifying production in the marshlands, followed by the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) Project in 2010. The LWH Project aims at increasing productivity on hillsides and developing parts of these hillsides for irrigated horticulture production.

    Since the beginning of these operations, over 7,400 hectares of marshlands have been rehabilitated or developed, and more than 32,500 hectares of hillsides have been sustainably developed by LWH and RSSP between 2010 and 2012. Maize yields have improved from 1.6 tons/ha to nearly 5 tons/ha; while rice yields have improved from 3 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. Currently, 2.5 tons of high end horticulture products are weekly exported to Europe, thanks to hillside irrigation by LWH.

    So far, of 343,248 beneficiaries of the RSSP projects, more than 42% are women as are 50% of the 280,666 beneficiaries of LWH. The impact created by these two programs is transforming rural Rwanda.

    Expanded Access to Electricity

    The World Bank is taking the lead and supporting the country’s electricity access roll out program under the ongoing Electricity Access Scale-up and Sector-wide Approach Project (EASSA) project ($130 million). It has supported the government’s efforts to increase its national access rate to the electricity grid from about 6% in 2009 to about 24.3% as of August 2016 . The electrification program has led to an extension of the number of working hours and reduced spoilage of fresh products due to the availability of refrigeration and cooling. “Prior to being connection to electricity, profits were low because we worked shorter hours and left work early. Now, we can work as late as we need to,” said Myriam, a shopkeeper in Bugesera, a district in Rwanda’s Eastern Province.

    The challenge now is to increase the capacity of electric generators and reduce the cost of the generation mix. Rwanda has the highest tariff in the East African Community at about $0.25/kWh. This is largely due to a heavy reliance on high cost diesel generation which constitutes about 45% of the generation mix. WBG active operations in the generation sector include: (i) the 80MW Regional Rusumo Hydroelectric project ($340 million); and (ii) a MIGA guarantee ($95.4 million) Kivuwatt 25MW gas to power project. The project will initially add a 25MW generation capacity, and an additional 75MW at a later stage.

    Strengthening social protection

    Through the Social Protection System Project, the WBG has helped expand the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), the government’s main social safety net program. In 2015, VUP was present in 312 of the country’s 416 geographical sectors, up from 30 sectors when the program was first launched in 2008. With 18,304 public works (PW) beneficiaries at its inception in 2008, and 6,850 direct support (DS) beneficiaries at its introduction in 2009, the two components now reach 100,261 and 84,354 households respectively. The total level of coverage is now over 200,000 households, totaling more than a million beneficiaries assuming an average household size of 6 in the poorest quintiles (EICV4).   

    Under the VUP, 65% of households which benefit from direct support through unconditional cash transfers are headed by women, while 47% of households participating in public works are headed by women.

    Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017

  • A significant percentage of ongoing projects supported by the World Bank have mobilized support from other development partners. These projects include the Electricity Access Project (Nordic Development Fund, OPEC Fund for International Development, Netherlands), the Second Emergency Demobilization and Reintegration Project (Sweden, Germany, Netherlands), and the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting and Hillside Irrigation (LWH) Project (USAID, Canada, GAFSP)

    Last Updated: Mar 17, 2017



Rwanda: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
Blvd. de la Revolution
SORAS Building
Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda
Rogers Kayihura
Communications Officer
Trichur K. Balakrishnan
Country Program Coordinator
1818 H Street NW
Washington DC 20433