Situation and cooperation

People on a road in Huye, Rwanda

Dealing with the aftermath of the 1994 genocide remains a major challenge for Rwanda. The process of reconciliation and preventing a recurrence of the conflict are vital to the country's future stable development. Despite the considerable progress Rwanda has achieved, living conditions there remain poor, especially for the rural population. Almost 40 per cent of the population have, for example, no access to adequate sanitation. Average life expectancy is 67 (2015 figures) and the population is growing at a rate of 2.4 per cent (2016 figures).

Poverty reduction

Although Rwanda achieved economic growth of 5.9 per cent in 2016 and made considerable strides towards reducing poverty, World Bank figures show that many of its people are living below the national poverty line (in 2013, 40 per cent).

Rwanda has adopted an Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) aimed at significantly reducing the percentage of people living in poverty. A second, updated version of the strategy, EDPRS II, is now in place, covering the period from 2013 to 2018. Its aim is to facilitate dynamic economic growth that is driven by a growing service sector, a dynamic industrial sector and a modern, productive agricultural sector. The EDPRS is part of Rwanda's "Vision 2020", the government's ambitious programme to make Rwanda a middle-income country by 2020.

Education and health

Children playing in a small village in Rwanda

Rwanda has made considerable progress in the field of education. By introducing free schooling, for example, it has considerably boosted school enrolment rates. By 2015, 95 per cent of all school-age children in Rwanda were enrolled in primary school, compared with only 82 per cent in 2002. However, nearly 40 per cent of children still end up dropping out of primary school.

The mortality rate for under-fives dropped from 195 deaths per 1,000 children to 39 between 2000 and 2016. Maternal mortality rates, too, have been considerably reduced. In 2000, an estimated 1,000 women died per 100,000 live births; this feel to just 290 women in 2015.


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

Rwanda's civil society, press and opposition are underdeveloped and they have strict constraints imposed on them. In recent years, authoritarian government structures have tended to become even more entrenched. In August 2017, President Paul Kagame was re-elected for a further seven years, with 98.8 per cent of the vote. Rwanda's constitution had been amended in 2015 so as to enable Kagame, who has been in office since 2000, to stand for election once again.

Observers were critical of the preparations for the 2017 presidential election. In particular, they felt that the process for admitting candidates was not sufficiently transparent. The presidential elections in 2010 and the parliamentary elections in 2013 were also dominated by the governing coalition and were described by observers as insufficiently transparent. Nevertheless, the elections were largely peaceful and were felt by many to represent an important step towards greater democratisation of the country. The next parliamentary elections are to be held in 2018.

The Rwandan government is a strong advocate for gender equality. It is implementing campaigns to improve education for girls, for example, and enacting legislation guaranteeing women the right to own land. Although traditions still leave many women in rural areas disadvantaged, in national politics women play an important part in decision-making processes. The constitution requires that at least 30 per cent of seats in Rwanda’s parliament be held by women. Rwanda has a higher proportion of women in parliament than any other country in the world, with 61 per cent of seats held by women.


Park in Kigali, Rwanda

The Rwandan government's stated aim is to improve living conditions for all by promoting economic growth. One important partner in that endeavour is the private sector. The World Bank "Doing Business" report of 2018 placed Rwanda 41st out of 190 countries. That makes Rwanda the second-placed sub-Saharan African country in the report, behind Mauritius.

In 2007, Rwanda joined the East African Community (EAC). In July 2009, it adopted the EAC common customs tariff and in 2013 a framework agreement was signed laying plans for a future monetary union, modelled on the eurozone. Rwanda is hoping this will enable it to increase its exports to within the region.

However, the country’s infrastructural deficits, especially with regards to energy supply, are holding back growth. Only about one quarter of Rwandans have access to electricity. The aim is to increase that figure to 70 per cent of all households by 2018. Through its regional programmes, Germany is helping to improve energy supply by installing transmission lines between Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also funding construction and maintenance work on three regional hydropower stations on the Ruzizi river.

Germany has joined with a number of other countries to fund the "Energising Development" programme, which is giving millions of people across the world access to modern energy services. Under this programme, Rwanda has been benefiting from support for private sector investments in small decentralised hydropower plants since 2006.

Development potential

Rwanda's economy has grown considerably in the last few years. The service sector is playing an increasingly important role, with the financial services sector and information technology offering great potential for development. The tourism sector is also expanding and is now Rwanda's main source of foreign exchange revenue. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting annual economic growth of between 6 and 7.5 per cent over the coming years.

Although the enabling environment for the private sector has improved (with faster registration processes, for example), investors would like greater clarity on taxes and costs, more transparent and reliable information for their business activities and more efficient decision-making processes. The government has made progress in its anti-corruption efforts. The non-governmental organisation Transparency International ranked Rwanda 50th out of the 176 countries listed on the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2016 (in 2006 it stood at 121st out of 163 countries).


Landscape near Musebeya, Rwanda

Rwanda's rapid population growth is posing a threat to the country's environment. There is increasing land degradation resulting from erosion and excessively intensive use of the land. This is resulting in less and less farmland being available. At the same time rural areas in particular are increasingly feeling the effects of extreme weather events, such as droughts and heavy rainfall. The government is therefore supporting terracing and resource conservation programmes. In 2013, a national funding mechanism (FONERWA) was established to support adaptation efforts and help the private sector comply with mitigation targets. The German government is contributing to the fund.

The Rwandan government is also working hard to stem uncontrolled deforestation and to place remaining forests under protection, not least because tourism plays such an important role for the country's economy.


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 strengthening the country’s external and domestic security. The government plays an active and constructive role in regional and international organisations.

In 2013, together with 11 other countries, Rwanda signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework initiated by the UN Secretary-General. Implementation is, however, proceeding slowly and efforts to disarm the FDLR rebel group (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda) operating in the Congo have so far been unsuccessful. In August 2016, the Presidents of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo agreed to increase cooperation on economic and security issues.

Relations with Rwanda's neighbour, Burundi, have been strained since political unrest broke out there in April 2015. Since that time, Rwanda has taken in almost 90,000 people from Burundi, including many member of the Burundian opposition.

Germany is supporting the peace process in the region through its political cooperation with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The German government is helping the ICGLR to stem the trade in conflict resources, for example.

Through its Civil Peace Service, Germany is also supporting the efforts of the Republic of Rwanda in the areas of trauma management, conflict prevention and the networking of Rwandan non-governmental organisations involved in peace work.

Priority areas of German cooperation with Rwanda

At the government negotiations in Kigali in May 2017, Germany pledged 71 million euros to Rwanda for a period of three years. Of that amount, 42 million euros is earmarked for Financial cooperation and 29 million for Technical cooperation. Rwandan-German development cooperation focuses on two priority areas:

  • good governance (decentralisation, public financial management and promoting civil society)
  • sustainable economic development (private sector promotion, vocational education and training and employment promotion).

In 2017, interim commitments were also made for regional energy measures (22 million euros for Financial Cooperation) and the promotion of information and communication technologies (10 million euros for Technical Cooperation).

Good governance

Villagers meeting in Musebeya after a march for more public participation

In this area, the key aims of German development cooperation are to improve provision of basic public services and infrastructure and to improve opportunities for people to take part in decision-making processes.

Some 70 per cent of people in Rwanda live in rural areas. Germany is supporting the country’s decentralisation process in order to improve living conditions for those people. Local infrastructure measures are being financed through the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), supported by Germany. 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.

Through its Technical Cooperation, Germany is helping to improve the capacities of national and local authorities. It is also working with civil society so as to improve public participation.  This includes supporting specific non-governmental organisations with the aim of helping disadvantaged groups to demand their rights from government institutions (for example land rights, youth rights, gender rights and health rights).

Germany is also actively supporting public finance reform. Rwanda was one of the first countries to join the Addis Tax Initiative. The initiative provides support to the government in its tax and customs reforms, with the long-term aim of increasing the country's tax ratio.

Sustainable economic development

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

If poverty is to be pushed back, as many people as possible must be freed from their reliance on subsistence farming and enabled to make a living from skilled crafts and trades or the services sector. The Rwandan government is therefore endeavouring to create the necessary jobs. Germany is lending its support in various areas.

One aspect is strengthening private sector capacity and improving the business environment. Small and medium-sized enterprises are to be afforded better access to financial services. That will mean supporting various ministries, public authorities and organisations and linking them up with each other.

The other aspect is improving vocational training and making it more practice-based. Over 60 per cent of the Rwandan population are below the age of 26. That means there is a great demand for vocational education and training and for jobs. Germany is supporting the country in the development of a vocational education and training system that is tailored to the needs of the labour market. This includes supporting training institutions and providing further training for teaching staff. Germany has also supported Rwanda in setting up the national Workforce Development Authority (WDA) to develop vocational education and training.

Under the G20 Compact with Africa initiative, Germany has joined with other donors to support Rwanda in improving the environment for private investors. It plans, for example, to set up a German Business Desk in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to support investment in areas relevant to development.

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