Working Papers

Rwanda: Trade and Economic Profile

Rwanda: Trade and Economic Profile

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02 Mar 2018

Author(s): John Stuart

This Working Paper provides a profile of the economy of Rwanda, an African least-developed country (LDC), with a special emphasis on trade and production (i.e. the real economy). Rwanda is one of the smallest countries on the African continent, located in central-east Africa just south of the equator and is landlocked. It borders on Uganda to the north, Burundi (an even smaller country) to the south, Tanzania to the east, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west. Despite a torrid recent past, it has fought back and showed admirable progress in export performance in recent years.

Rwanda has a small industrial sector but one that has been growing faster than any of the other major sectors. This includes the mining sector, which is an important contributor to foreign exchange as ores are one of the most important exports. The manufacturing sector is small even for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) at around 5% and the nature of the sub-sectors are relatively basic. Examples are cement, agro-processing, furniture, shoes and textiles. It is clear that the small manufacturing sector complements closely the output of the primary sector, which is often the case in Africa.

In 2016, the services sector was the largest sector in Rwanda, at just over 50% of GDP. The main sub-sectors are finance, trade, hotels and restaurants, transport & storage and communications. Rwanda had a large current account imbalance in 2016 and one that nearly equals the value of total exports.


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