Situation and cooperation

People on a road in Huye, Rwanda

Dealing with the aftermath of the genocide of 1994 is still a major challenge for Rwanda. Reconciliation and the avoidance of new conflicts are the basis for stable development. Large areas of infrastructure have been restored but despite noticeable progress, living conditions are still poor, especially for the rural population. Some 64 per cent of the population now have access to better sanitation. Average life expectancy in 2013 was 63 years. Population growth is just under three per cent a year.

Poverty reduction

Despite growth rates of 8.8 per cent (2012) and 4.7 per cent (2013) and considerable progress in fighting poverty, it is unlikely that Rwanda will achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving extreme poverty by 2015. According to a recent MDG report by the UN, the country has however succeeded in halving the number of people suffering from hunger.

The aim of the country’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) is to significantly reduce the number of Rwandans living in poverty. The follow-up poverty reduction strategy (EDPRS II) for the period 2013 to 2017/18 is currently in force. It is intended to facilitate strong economic growth with backing from a growing service sector, a dynamic industrial sector and a modern, productive agricultural sector. The strategy is part of Rwanda's Vision 2020. With this ambitious programme, the government is seeking to make Rwanda a middle-income country by 2020.

Millennium Development Goals

Children playing in a small village in Rwanda

Rwanda has made remarkable progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The introduction of free education led to a sharp rise in school enrolment rates: In 2013, 99 per cent of all school-age children in Rwanda were attending primary school, compared with only 85 per cent in 2002. Mortality rates among the under-fives dropped by 69 per cent between 2001 and 2013. Maternal mortality rates, too, have been considerably reduced. In 1990, an estimated 1,400 women died per 100,000 live births, compared with 320 women in 2013.

Rwanda is therefore expected to achieve MDGs 2 (primary education), 3 (gender equality), 4 (child mortality) and 5 (maternal health). According to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) forecasts, the country may still manage to deliver on MDGs 6 (combating HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis) and 8 (global partnership for development).


Radio presenters Nadine Uwamahoro and Maxime Rindiro from Radio Heza at the radio studio in Kigali, Rwanda

Civil society, the press and the opposition in Rwanda are weak and have little room for manoeuvre. In recent years, authoritarian government structures have tended to become entrenched. Parliamentary elections were held in 2008 and 2013. They were described by observers as lacking transparency, much like the 2010 presidential elections. Nevertheless, the elections were largely peaceful and represent an important step towards greater democratisation of the country.

The Rwandan government is a firm advocate for gender justice. Although many women in rural areas remain disadvantaged because of tradition, women play an important part in decision-making processes at the national political level. Rwanda has a higher proportion of women in its parliament than any other country in the world, with 64 per cent of seats held by women.


Park in Kigali, Rwanda

Rwanda's economy recovered relatively quickly from the global economic and financial crisis. Good agricultural yields coupled with stable demand for the country’s main exports, namely coffee, tea and minerals, are enabling Rwanda to achieve notable economic growth. Forecasts put it at 6 to 7.5 per cent per annum for the next few years. Together with Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi, Rwanda is a member of the East African Community (EAC), which it joined in 2007. The aim of the EAC is to establish an economic and customs union. Rwanda is hoping this will help expand its regional exports.

Shortcomings in the country’s infrastructure are, however, a serious obstacle to economic development. The energy supply situation is particularly critical. To date only 22 per cent of the population are connected to the power grid. By 2018, energy provision is to be ensured for 70 per cent of all households. A power plant to be run on naturally occurring methane gas is currently being developed on Lake Kivu. Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Australia, Great Britain and Switzerland are jointly financing the programme entitled Energising Development, which is to give millions of people worldwide access to modern energy services. Since 2006, the programme has been providing support for private sector investments in small decentralised hydropower plants in Rwanda.

The private sector is an important partner for further development of the country. The government is supporting the sector by improving the business environment. In 2014, Rwanda ranked 46th out of the 189 countries listed in the World Bank’s Doing Business Index, which looks at the enabling environment for business activities. This ranking places the country only slightly behind South Africa and ahead of all other African countries. The tourism sector is of growing importance; it is now Rwanda's most important foreign exchange earner.

The government has made progress in fighting corruption. On the Corruption Perceptions Index produced by the non-governmental organisation Transparency International, Rwanda was ranked 49th of the 174 countries listed in 2014.


Landscape near Musebeya, Rwanda

Rwanda's rapid population growth is putting the country's limited natural resources under pressure, leading to growing environmental problems. Overly intensive use and erosion are degrading soils to an ever greater extent and further reducing the amount of farmland available. At the same time rural areas in particular are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, such as droughts and heavy rainfall. The government is therefore supporting terracing and resource conservation programmes. In 2013, the government established a national funding mechanism (FONERWA) to support adaptation and help the private sector comply with reduction targets. The German government, too, is contributing to the fund.

Not least with an eye to the economic importance of the tourism sector, the Rwandan government is working hard to stem uncontrolled deforestation and to place remaining forests under protection.


Witnesses of the genocide in Rwanda dancing and singing during a trauma counselling and conflict management session

Rwanda's foreign policy is mainly aimed at consolidating external and domestic security. The Rwandan government plays an active and constructive role in regional and international organisations.

Relations with the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, are repeatedly fraught with tension. In February 2013, together with 11 countries from the region, Rwanda signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework brokered by the UN Secretary-General.

Within the framework of its political cooperation with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Germany is supporting the peace process in the region. Germany is helping the ICGLR to establish a regional mechanism to curb trade in conflict minerals. The aim is to cut off the main sources of funding for the various armed groups that are active within the region.

Furthermore, through its Civil Peace Service, Germany is supporting the efforts of the Republic of Rwanda in the areas of youth work, trauma therapy, and the networking of Rwandan non-governmental organisations involved in conflict management activities.

Priority areas of German cooperation with Rwanda

At the government negotiations in November 2014, Germany pledged 69.5 million euros to Rwanda for a period of three years, of which 38 million euros is earmarked for financial cooperation and 31.5 million for technical cooperation. Rwandan-German development cooperation focuses on two priority areas:

  • decentralisation,
  • sustainable economic development (private sector promotion, vocational education and training and promoting employment).

Outside of these priority areas, Germany is engaged in reforming public financial management, which also includes strengthening Rwanda's Office of the Auditor General.


Approximately 70 per cent of Rwandans live in rural areas. Germany is supporting the country’s decentralisation process in order to improve their living conditions. The authorities at district and municipal level know best where improvements in local infrastructure are required and what kind of services are most needed. On the other hand, it is easier for civil society to make use of its right of say and exercise scrutiny of the administration at the local level.

Local infrastructure measures are being financed under the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA). The funds are being used, for instance, to build schools, markets and bus stations, and to terrace land for growing crops in order to prevent soil erosion. Germany is supporting the Fund through financial cooperation.

As part of its technical cooperation, Germany is contributing to the development of government capacities at the national and local levels, promoting fiscal decentralisation in Rwanda and working with civil society with a view to strengthening popular participation in decision-making processes.

Sustainable economic development

Students of the ETEKA motor vehicle vocational training institute in Kabgayi, Rwanda, working on an engine

Around 80 per cent of Rwanda’s population depends on agriculture, which is dominated by subsistence farming. If poverty is to be pushed back, as many people as possible will have to break away from subsistence farming and start earning a living from crafts and trades or the services sector. German support covers two areas:

Firstly, private sector capacity is to be strengthened, economic conditions improved and small and medium-sized enterprises granted better access to the financial sector. Secondly, vocational training is to be improved and made more practice-oriented by means of support for training institutions and training upgrades for teaching staff. Germany has also provided Rwanda with support for setting up a national Workforce Development Authority (WDA).

Support for civil society

Villagers meeting in Musebeya after a march for more public participation

The German government continues to support selected non-governmental organisations with a view to strengthening the rights of disadvantaged groups vis-à-vis government institutions in various areas (for instance land rights, youth rights, gender rights and health rights).

Health, family planning, HIV/AIDS control

Rwandan-German cooperation in the former priority area of health was wound up at the end of 2012 at the express wish of the Rwandan government and in line with the process of international division of labour.

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