Policy Watch

Debt vs GDP / Bonds vs bills

All Data - Rwanda

Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
GDP (billions US$) 7.22 7.52 7.15 - - -
Total Outstanding Amount (Billion US$) 0.26 0.36 - - - -
Bonds 0.02 0.02 - - - -
Bills 0.24 0.35 - - - -
Outstanding Amount/GDP (%) 3.64% 4.80% 0.00% - - -

Country Summary

Real GDP grew by an average of 6.9% in the first three quarters of 2015, lower than the 7.2% average recorded during the same period in 2014. However, the 6.9% rate is in line with the 7.0% target for 2015. The services and industry sectors led the expansion during this period. Growth in the agriculture sector, however, was moderate in part due to fluctuations in weather conditions. For 2016 and 2017, sustained investments to address energy and transport infrastructure constraints, continued progression in industry and a recovery in services are expected to lead growth. Agriculture is projected to grow at a moderate rate.

Headline inflation is projected to remain below the central bank’s medium-term target in 2016 and 2017. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain subdued due to low fuel and food prices. Strong demand for capital, intermediate goods and fuel products is projected to persist in the short to medium term in line with the public investment programme. Current account deficits are expected to remain high in the near term as export receipts continue to account for only 25% of imports.

Rwanda’s urban population accounted for 28.0% of its total population in 2014, which is lower than the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and global averages of 37.0% and 53.0% respectively. However, the 5.9% annual urbanisation rate exceeds the averages of 4.2% and 2.1% for SSA and the world respectively. This calls for an integrated urban/rural development approach to ensure sustainability and to link urban development objectives with other goals, notably socio-economic transformation. Implementation of the Urbanization and Rural Settlement Strategy (2013-18) is underway. This strategy focuses on two objectives. The first objective is to enhance Kigali’s development and provide urban planning and management support to the districts. The second objective relates to the creation of balanced urbanisation for economic inclusion and transformation. In this regard, six secondary cities are at various levels of development, the goal being to transform budding trade and transport centres into regional growth poles. Achieving these objectives is expected to increase the urbanisation rate to 35.0% by 2020.

Source : African Economic Outlook 2016

Monetary policy & Public debt

The overall objective of the Central Bank is to preserve price stability and to foster a low inflation environment. To achieve this, the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) exerts control on the supply of money (the Central Bank has a flexible monetary targeting approach).  A monetary policy committee reviews every three months the key repo rate; the level of reserve money is reviewed every six months during IMF review mission.

Inflation levels are traditionally moderate in Rwanda relative to regional rates; the success of containing the inflation levels can be attributed to prudent macroeconomic policies. In June 2014, inflation in Rwanda decreased to 1.4%.

Rwanda Medium-term Debt Strategy 2015-16 pursues a strategy that increases long-term debt and reduces short-term debt. To achieve this, the Ministry of Finance could favor a scenario that seeks to achieve a Nominal Debt to GDP ratio of 40.8%, a duration of 10.2 years and a foreign exchange debt of 86.7% of GDP.

Market Structure

Market Participants


The National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) is the sole issuer of public debt. 

Investor base

Large institutions, pension funds and insurance companies are the major investors in government securities.

Instruments issued

Treasury bills

Treasury bills are sold in four maturities: 28-d, 91-d, 182-d and 364-days. The NBR publishes on its website a half-year calendar of the auction dates.

Treasury bonds

Maturities for Treasury bonds range between 2-, 3-, 5-, 7-, 10- and 15-years. The auctions are irregular.

Yield curve

The NBR has developed a 10-year yield curve, which is upward sloping. 

Primary Market and Secondary Market

Primary Market

Competitive and non-competitive forms of tenders are being used. The minimum amount to participate in a non-competitive bid is RWF100,000 and for a competitive bid, it is RWF50 million.

Secondary Market

OTC vs. Exchange listed

The Rwanda OTC market was established by the Capital Markets Authority Advisory Council (CMAC) in 2008 (the CMAC became later the Capital Markets Authority). The RSE currently operates on a dual trading process; an open outcry trading from 9:00 A.M to 12:00 P.M and an OTC market that goes beyond 12:00 PM in which traders trade between themselves and with investors.

Clearing, settlement and custody

The NBR has implemented its own CSD. 

Recent Developments

In 2013, the local authorities discussed the projects of implementing an electronic platform on the RSE and establishing an inter-depository transfer mechanism.

The RSE plans to create an additional market segment for small and medium enterprises in addition to the two already existing. It is also in the process of being harmonized with the securities exchanges of the other East African Community (EAC) countries.

The year 2013 also saw the successful debut of Rwanda sovereign bonds. The government offered on April 2013 a 10-year, USD 400 million Eurobond. The bond traded at a yield of 6.875% and the coupon rate was 6.625%.

Investor Protection

The legal, regulatory and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. Rwanda ranked 22nd in 2014 for protecting investors; this good ranking is to be attributed to the government efforts in the recent past to improve its regulatory environment.

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has put in place an Investor Protection fund that safeguards invested amounts against default by any of the CMA intermediaries. Moreover, the CMA can rule over matters related to conduct of business, maintenance of registers and licensing of intermediaries.

Guide to Buying Bonds

Procedures for market participation

The National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) announces upcoming auctions four days in advance. Banks and financial institutions are eligible to participate provided they opened an account an investment account with a stockbroker or at the Central Bank. All other investors must contact their commercial banks and receive approval from the Central Bank before participating.


Interest earned on fixed-income securities is subject to a 15% withholding tax; a 5% reduction is available on interest earned on Treasury bonds of 3 years or more.

Settlement cycle

Settlement cycle is T+2.

Market restrictions

Openness to international investors

The investment climate in Rwanda has drastically improved in recent years. The government has made great strides in improving the business environment, particularly with respect to entrepreneurial activities. It now takes 3 days to start a business, when it takes an average 45.6 days in other Sub-Saharan countries (the average for OECD nations is 13 days and 5.7 procedures).

Capital controls

There are no capital controls in Rwanda.

Foreign exchange controls and profit repatriation

Rwanda has a floating exchange rate regime in which the Rwandan franc is maintained within a narrow range against the US dollar. Foreign investors can freely repatriate profits, dividends, royalties and interest payments.

There is no difficulty in obtaining foreign exchange, or transferring funds; it is to be noted however that transfers over $20,000 require documentation to comply with the stipulations of anti-money laundering regulations (the regular transfer time is 3 days).

Credit Rating

In 2014, Fitch upgraded the foreign and local long term issuer default ratings from B to B+. On September 2015, S&P has confirmed the B+ rating on Rwanda debt and given it a stable outlook.

List of Primary Dealers

There are no primary dealers in Rwanda.