More than 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus were killed over the course of 100 days in Rwanda until the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded the country in 1994, putting a stop to one of the most terrible acts of genocide in recent African history. Since that time, the RPF has maintained its position as the nation’s dominant political force and prioritized rapprochement and the maintenance of peace. The RPF-led government has implemented several political, social, and legal initiatives during the past 26 years that are intended to address the core causes of the nation’s historical bloodshed to establish peace and end the cycle of hostility between Tutsi and Hutus (Merwe, 2020).
In 2019, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, Rwanda demonstrated how to recover from a war. On the 2019 Global Peace Index, Rwanda rose 25 places in one year, ranking as the 79th most peaceful nation and recording the fifth-highest peace improvement (GPI). Over the past year, violent crime in Rwanda has significantly decreased. According to official figures, Kigali’s crime rate has decreased. But criminality is still widespread in areas that border the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Vision of Humanity).
The RPF-led government launched several programs to repair social cohesiveness and construct a new Rwandan identity by rewriting society’s collective memory to normalize interactions between groups. Re-education initiatives and youth solidarity camps, known as Ingando locally, were frequently utilized to ingrain a state-approved history of Rwanda and the genocide (Blackie & Hitchcott, 2018). Any mention of the Hutu-Tutsi struggle and division before the genocide was concealed in this narrative. The government was also able to completely omit any reference to pre-genocide tensions between Hutu and Tutsi or the conflict between the pre-genocide Hutu government and RPF militias by substituting one version of history with another. Instead, the government chose to concentrate on the colonial causes of these constructed identities (Buckley-Zistel, 2006).
Positive progress towards political tolerance and pluralism is suggested by the 2018 release and acquittal of jailed Diana Rwigara, the sole challenger to president Paul Kagame in the 2017 election. This development was noted in the Political Terror Scale indicator. Although Rwanda witnessed advances in each of the GPI’s three categories, the militarization domain showed the most progress. United Nations peacekeeping funding for Rwanda increased by 41.8% last year (Vision of Humanity).
In Rwanda, young people have been instrumental in advancing a narrative that calls for peace, harmony, and societal healing. On May 26, 2021, 42 young people in Rwanda’s Bugesera District received training from Interpeace and its partners to improve their critical thinking skills and provide them with the communication tools they need to advance peace and reconciliation. The training addressed one of the goals of the program, which was to increase young people’s capacity for receiving, processing, and digesting the effects of the Tutsi Genocide and to transform them in a way that will help them manage trauma and develop a shared understanding for creating a peaceful and inclusive future.
“Empirical research and prior experiences have shown that the Tutsi Genocide has left behind transgenerational effects. According to Ernest Dukuzumuremyi, Programme Manager at Interpeace Rwanda, this training has improved the young people’s ability to think critically and use contemporary communication channels to communicate for peace, make a difference in their communities, and aid in the fight against misinformation.
The protection of civilians is the primary goal of peace operations, declared H.E. President Paul Kagame during the 2015 International Peace Conference on the Protection of Civilians held in Kigali. It cannot be emphasized enough. The goal is to safeguard the common people who are most at risk. The sad past, our resolve to “Never Again,” and the Kigali Principles for the Protection of Civilians all impact Rwanda’s stance on peacekeeping.
Currently, peacekeepers are carrying out missions in extremely difficult security conditions that are changing very quickly. To guarantee that mediators are sent on missions with a clear attitude and the necessary skills to protect civilians as effectively as possible, the Government of Rwanda supports collaborations among essential parties. To establish capabilities, train personnel, and close the capability gap, partnerships in peacekeeping are essential. No nation can accomplish this on its own. Therefore, Rwanda continues to be dedicated to high-level bilateral and international cooperation for improved civilian protection in times of war. Rwanda anticipates stepping up its involvement in peacekeeping in the future by deploying new technology and medical capabilities for improved mandate fulfillment. This will help to sustain international peace and security (Ambassador Claver Gatete).
Strong economic growth in Rwanda has been followed by significant gains in living conditions, including a reduction in child mortality by two-thirds and nearly universal primary school attendance. Access to services and human development indices have significantly improved as a result of a strong emphasis on domestic policies and efforts (World Bank, 2022).
The nation is not only engaged in a remarkable growth dynamic, but it is also serving as an example for other emerging economies on the continent of Africa. In 20 years, the GDP has increased by a factor of six, growing at a rate greater than 7% annually. Rwanda is the second African nation in the World Bank’s ranking for ease of doing business after Mauritius, which places it 29th out of 190 countries. It is ranked among the least corrupt nations on the continent by Transparency International.
Additionally, the nation is a pioneer in several industries. With 64% of the seats in the legislature occupied by women, it is the global champion for parliamentary parity. Since it abolished plastic bags in 2004, it is ahead of its time in terms of environmental policies. This choice was made by it as the first nation in the globe (AFD).
With a population of roughly 13 million, Rwanda is a small, landlocked country that is mountainous and rich (2020). Along with Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi, it shares borders with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a very wealthy and huge country. Before COVID-19 and its effects threatened to buck the trend, Rwanda had implemented significant economic and structural reforms with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and maintained its stable economic growth rates for more than a decade (World Bank, 2022).
Currently, Rwanda’s goals are to become a Middle-Income Country by 2035 and a High-Income Country by 2050. It intends to do this through a set of sectoral strategies geared at achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals that are supported by seven-year National Strategies for Transformation (NST1). The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies (EDPRS) (2008–12) and EDPRS–2 (2013–18), both of which were followed by the NST1, saw Rwanda do well in both the economic and social spheres. Over the 2010–2019 period, growth averaged 7.2% per year, while GDP per capita increased by 5%. However, in 2020 the COVID-19 epidemic was mostly contained thanks to the lockdown and social isolation measures, which severely restricted economic activity. The GDP decreased by 3.4% in 2020, the largest decrease since 1994. (World Bank, 2022).
The 19th edition of the Rwanda Economic Update (REU19), titled Boosting Exports Through Technology, Innovation, and Trade in Services, predicts that the country’s GDP would expand by 6% in 2022, down from 11% in 2021. Because of the sharp rise in the cost of commodities on the world market as well as the disruption of global supply networks, inflation is still on the rise.
“Rwanda’s rising inflation threatens to erode hard-won gains in the fight against poverty and the development of human capital at a time when employment has not yet returned to its pre-pandemic level. According to Rolande Pryce, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Rwanda, “Government initiatives to safeguard the most vulnerable and strengthening the nation’s social safety nets continue to be vital.”
The report provides insight into Rwanda’s export performance due to its particular focus on commerce. The REU19 observes that over the past ten years, Rwandan businesses have grown their involvement in international trade (especially in the services sector), to levels that are higher than those of their regional and continental counterparts. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certificate, which is a crucial element in easing enterprises’ involvement in international commerce, is discussed in the report’s discussion of the key factors influencing trade performance. 36% more companies that have ISO certification are exporters. However, given that just 3% of Rwandan businesses have achieved ISO certification in 2019, this continues to be a significant concern for Rwanda.
The REU19 also reveals a substantial link between Rwanda’s use of e-commerce and its involvement in international trade, noting its sparse uptake by Rwandan businesses. The World Bank’s Calvin Djiofack, a country economist, noted that there is a “strong relationship between e-commerce and exporting, and the lack of information pertaining foreign markets frequently cited by firms in Rwanda, asserts investment in internet infrastructure can provide secluded enterprises, such as those in rural and underdeveloped urban areas, with low-cost connectivity to markets and customers, and increase local firms’ participation in international trade.”
The growth of services has received significant attention in Rwanda to increase employment, income, and export revenues, according to the REU19. However, the nation has a skills gap that, if not resolved, may limit potential development for exports of high-skill services. One of the recommendations in the study is for Rwanda to solve its short-term skills gap by recognizing the credentials of regional experts and doing away with work-permit regimes for them.
With public debt in Rwanda steadily rising over the past few years, the country’s public-sector-led economic model has demonstrated its limitations. The high proportion of massive public investments in Rwanda (13% of GDP in 2019) has resulted in significant fiscal deficits sustained by borrowing from abroad. Due to increased borrowing requirements brought on by the pandemic, the debt-to-GDP ratio increased to 56.7% in 2019 (from 19.4% in 2010) and was projected to reach 71.3% of GDP in 2020. (World Bank, 2022).
Public investment finance has benefited greatly from external funding in the form of grants and both concessional and non-concessional borrowing. In the future, it appears that the private sector will contribute more to ensuring economic prosperity. Some of the main barriers to private investment are low domestic savings, a skills gap, and the high cost of energy. Increased private sector dynamism will support high investment rates and speed up growth (World Bank, 2022).
Along with inclusive growth, encouraging domestic savings is thought to be essential. It is more urgent than ever to develop a medium-term public investment strategy to achieve a more effective allocation of resources geared toward projects essential for a broad-based and inclusive economic recovery after the pandemic because the momentum for poverty reduction has slowed down in recent years (World Bank, 2022).
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- Rwanda economic update, January 2020. (2020). https://doi.org/10.1596/33247
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