Economy of Rwanda

Economy of Rwanda
Rwanda is a very poor, landlocked country with 90% of its population engaged in agriculture. However they are mostly subsistent farmers, meaning that they only farm enough so they can survive not make money. The location of Rwanda is very detrimental to the development of its economy as it is situated in Central Africa. It is landlocked which makes it close to impossible for Rwandan farmers to sell their goods to other countries that are interested or negotiate a decent price as they are almost forced to sell or die as a result of not being able to make any money. Being surrounded by other developing countries makes it very hard for it to grow economically, quickly. Rwanda receives financial support from many of the large organisations; however they have been troubled by their large spending in the military over the past few years, which have developed arguments between Rwanda and the aid donors. Rwanda has been hit very badly by the 1994 Genocide, which has really affected one of their most important income earners, tourism. Tourism has been affected so badly that people skip Rwanda for their safety. However they have really worked hard as a nation with the support of many countries and organisations. They are climbing back and are expected to climb past the pre- 1994 economic levels in the near future.

Economy of the Southern Province
The economy of the Southern Province could be divided into 3 sectors; Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. The Primary sector is by far the most important as it produces nearly 95% of its income. Secondary and Tertiary sectors are very limited as they do not have the technology to support them. Primary sector is agriculture and as Agriculture is the main “income producer”, this sector is very important. 90% of the population relies on subsistence farming. The Southern Province has an abundance of land, of which can be readily cultivated for the production of rice, soya beans, maize, coffee and tea. Coffee and Tea are the most important crops of the Southern Province and Rwanda. The Southern Province like many other areas has relied heavily on tourism before the genocide. After the genocide the Southern Province has been affected economically by the fall in tourism. Tourism is starting to experience a boom due to the government’s new approach to work together with neighbouring countries.

NOTE that there are banana plants all around the little hut.
(Above picture obtained from Christine's PowerPoint Presentation)

Interesting Topics relating to Economy
- Aid
Rwanda overall receives approximately US $450 million each year to help run the country. It receives substantial aid money mainly from the United Nations. According to the CIA World Fact Book Rwanda obtained the IMF- World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative debt relief in 2005-06 and Rwanda also received the Millennium Challenge Account Threshold status in 2006. Rwanda continues to gain more and more countries and organisations willing to help in financial terms, which is very much needed.

- Crops
Rwanda has extensive industry of tea and coffee plantations. With its extremely fertile and rich topsoil supported by its location near the equator, which brings plenty of rain, allows Rwanda to produce top quality tea and coffee products. Fruits are also unlimited in Rwanda, especially Bananas, which are very easy to find in Rwanda and is the most abundant fruit in the Southern Province. Beans are also among those previously mentioned above and grow very well in the rich soils of Rwanda. Beans are not as common as tea or banana but it is one of the main exports.
This picture shows the vast plantations of tea on rich soils of Rwanda
(Above picture obtained from

Rwanda is a very “lucky country” with perfect weather and soil for growing many different types of crops. However its location plays a contrasting role, when it comes to being able to trade the goods that are being produced from it as the country is landlocked and also it is stuck in Central Africa, “squeezed” in between some of the most troubled countries in the world.

(Above picture obtained from

- Shops
Shops in Rwanda are not the everyday shops people can enter in Australia. They are so different that people in Australia would not even recognise their shops as shops. The shops in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, are also very different to the shops in Gikongoro, a town in the Southern Province. Shops in Kigali can always fill their shelves with goods, whereas the shops in Gikongoro run out of stock for sometimes up to 6 months. This is due to bad transportation services that operate in Rwanda.

Below is a photo of the local shopping centre
(Above photo obtained from Christine’s PowerPoint Presentation)

Answers to some frequently asked questions (Mostly answered by Christine)

Ø Is Tourism a key factor in the Rwandan Economy?
Definitely, Tourism is one of the key factors in the entire country’s economy but like other sectors, tourism was affected by the genocide 1994 but it is starting to experience a boom due to the government’s new approach to work together with neighbouring countries.

Ø What is Rwanda’s main source of income?
Rwanda is a rural country with about 90% of the population engaged in (mainly subsistence) agriculture. Subsistence means that people farmed enough for themselves to live with the farmed agriculture however not have enough to make money out of it and enjoy the luxury item tat are taken for granted in the west. As Rwanda is landlocked, it has few natural resources and negligible industry.

Ø What does Rwanda import and who are its main import partners?
Rwanda imports food stuffs, machinery and equipment, steel, petroleum products, cement and construction material. They imports approximately $390.4 million. Their main import partners according to the CIA Wold Fact Book are Kenya 18.9%, Uganda 6.6%, Belgium 5.8%, Germany 5.6%, and Israel 4.3%.

Ø What does Rwanda export and who are its main export partners?
Rwanda exports coffee, tea, tin ore and hides. It exports about $135.4 million. Their main export partners according to the CIA World Fact Book are Germany 11%, China 6.5% and Belgium 4.5%.

Ø What are the main products from the Southern Province?
The main products produced in the Southern Province are tea, bananas, beans, sorghum and potatoes.

Ø Is the Southern Province richer or poorer than the rest of Rwanda?
The Southern Province is definitely the poorest part of Rwanda with the highest illiteracy because it is too far from any infrastructure and does not have any tourism to promote local economy with the only attraction in the region being” Nyungwe National Park”.


· (Page 337 Rwandan Genocide) A Geography of Global Interactions 1 by Grant Kleeman, Roger Epps, David Hamper, Christopher Lloyd, Barbara Rugendyke and Meg Sherval. Published by Heinemann.

Other Sources:
· Quotes from Geography lessons
· Christine’s Rwanda PowerPoint Presentation