Real GDP growth reached 6.1% in 2017 and was estimated at 7.2% in 2018, supported by strong growth in services (4.1%) and industry (1.5%), particularly manufacturing. The key drivers of spending in 2018 were household consumption (5.8% of GDP) and investment (2.9%). The fiscal deficit was an estimated 4.3% in 2018, down from 4.8% in 2017, thanks to increased investment (from 23.4% of GDP in 2017 to 25.3% in 2018) and reduced grants, despite strong tax collection driven mainly by improved tax compliance and the introduction of an electronic tax payment system. Public sector debt increased to 41.1% of GDP in 2018 from 35.6% in 2016, but risk of debt distress remains low. With inflation low and the exchange rate relatively stable, monetary policy continued to be accommodative in 2018.
Inflation was estimated at 0.9% in 2018, much below the 8.2% in 2017, thanks to the lower cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages. The exchange rate remained relatively stable throughout 2018. In 2018, the foreign exchange rate pressures on the Rwandan franc remained modest due to continued improvements in the external sector resulting from a 15.8% increase in exports and a 1.4% increase in imports. The currency depreciated by 1.4% against the US dollar in 2017, far below the 9.4% in 2016.
The current account deficit widened to an estimated 8.4% in 2018 from 6.8% in 2017 due partly to a deterioration in the terms of trade to –3.6% in 2018 from 7.7% in 2017. Goods exports increased sharply by 29% and imports by 14.9% between January and May 2018, compared with the same period in 2017.
Tailwinds and headwinds
The economy is projected to grow at 7.8% in 2019 and 8.0% in 2020, supported by export growth resulting from the Made in Rwanda policy, continued public investments such as the Bugesera airport, and the country’s strong record of implementing reforms to achieve its long-term development goals. Inflation is projected to edge up to about 4.0% in both 2019 and 2020. Fiscal policy will continue to aim at prudent borrowing and fiscal consolidation to keep debt sustainable. The fiscal deficit is projected to reach 4.4% of GDP in 2019 but to decline to 3.6% in 2020, reflecting prudent borrowing and increased domestic resource mobilization. Rwanda’s economy has enjoyed a good governance buildup that has allowed for great strides toward deeply entrenched and respected good governance principles and toward structural transformation facilitated by broad-based growth. The country’s bold policy reforms present an opportunity for increased investment and job-creating growth. In terms of social developments, Rwanda has translated its strong growth into reduced poverty and improved equality. The poverty rate fell from 56.7% in 2005/06 to 39.1% in 2013/14, while income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, decreased from 0.52 to 0.45.
Given the drought in 2016 and 2017, Rwanda’s high reliance on rain-fed agriculture poses a risk to its economic outlook. Diseases and pests, such as the bronze bug and the fall armyworm in maize, could also reduce agricultural production. Rwanda’s suspension from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, following its decision to ban secondhand clothes and shoes, could depress exports and thus growth prospects if the growth momentum in tourism and mining receipts is not sustained. Finally, an oil price increase could raise the country’s import bill.
Insecurity and instability in the Great Lakes Region, particularly the civil unrest in neighboring Burundi and the ongoing violence and Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, remain a source of fragility for Rwanda. Increased violence is likely to affect Rwanda’s trade because Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes Region are among the country’s major trade partners. Rwanda also needs to improve its savings rate, which is low compared with regional peers—around 13% of GDP, well short of its investment rate of 26%.
Health sector preparedness
The 2019 Global Health Security Index ranked Rwanda 117 among 195 countries, signaling fundamental weakness in the healthcare system’s capacity and preparedness. Yet, Rwanda’s ability to respond quickly benefits from a strong public health system, a strong universal community health insurance system, and a relatively sustained budgetary allocation of up to 15% of the government budget to the health sector. Epidemiological surveillance and testing were ramped up at all border points and community level resulting into a testing capacity of more than 1,000 a day, with more than 59,000 tests by 25 May.
The government has undertaken a broad range of mea- sures to detect and contain the pandemic. It designed and approved a national preparedness plan amounting to an equivalent of $73.5 million, to be funded by the govern- ment and donors. It approved a national taskforce to lead all the epidemiological, logistics, and coordination activi- ties. And it announced strict social distancing measures.
The government has also scaled up testing. Gradual lifting of travel restrictions could stir a rise in new infections, putting the health sector under strain, given that there are only 16 intensive care unit beds at treatment centers. This capacity needs to be enhanced to cater for a potential surge in numbers of the critically ill.
To maintain macroeconomic stability, and provide more liquidity to the banking sector, the central bank lowered the policy rate in April from 5% to 4.5%, introduced an extended lending facility for banks with tenors ranging from 3 to 12 months, and established measures to redis- count bonds over 15 days rather than 30 days and at market value as opposed to the 3% discount.
On the fiscal side, tax relief measures aimed at sup- porting taxpayers were announced. These include the suspension of tax audits, extension of deadlines for filing and paying corporate income tax for 2019, and suspension of the 25% down payment admissible for amicable settle- ment. In addition, the government established a fund to support businesses most affected by the pandemic.
The public debt management office has for objectives to ensure that the government’s financing needs and settling of obligations meet the medium term objective of low borrowing costs, prudent risk exposure and promotes an active domestic debt market. The Public debt is composed of both external and domestic debt.
According to the Medium Term Debt Strategy 2018-2021,the majority of Rwanda’s debt is external (83 percent projected at end FY 2017/18), of which this is predominantly composed of concessional loans provided by multilateral institutions (74 percent of external debt at end FY 2017/18). Domestic debt is mainly composed of government securities especially Treasury bills together with Treasury bonds (more than 75 percent of total public domestic debt at end FY 2017/18).
T-Bills: These are short term Government securitieshaving 4, 13, 26 and 52 weeks maturity period. These are issued by the National Bank of Rwanda (NBR) on behalf of the National Treasuryand can be issued to individuals, banks and other institutions.
T-BONDS: These are medium term Government securities issued by the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) on behalf of the Treasury for the capital market development purpose.
GOVERNMENT BONDS: This category comprises the old development bonds which were not restructured, bonds issued at the time of acquiring government buildings and some other liabilities from debt guarantee.
CORPORATE LOANS: This category of debt includes the old treasury development bonds issued before 1994 and purchased by commercial banks. These loans were restructured into new bonds and have been repaid since 1998 for the commercial banks, and 1999 for other creditors respectively. These were restructured (rationalized) into new Bonds after 1994 and are being paid up to date.
Yield curve calculation models
Yield curve managed by
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 is T+2.
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).
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).
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List of Primary Dealers
There are no primary dealers in Rwanda.
Documents & Resources
Documents - Ministry of Finance
- 2019-2020_OrginalFinanceLaw.pdf (3.21 MB)
- Rwanda_MTDS-2015_16.pdf (1.00 MB)
- Rwanda_Budget_Outlook-2013_to_2016.pdf (238 kB)
- Rwanda_Fin_Sector_Strat_Plan-2013-18.pdf (899 kB)
- Rwanda_MTDS_2018-19_-2020-21.pdf (1.38 MB)
Documents - Central Bank
- Law governing National Bank of Rwanda (493 kB)
- Bank_of_Rwanda_-_Annual_Report_2013-14.pdf (4.84 MB)
- Rwanda_Fin_Stab_Report-2013-14.pdf (16.43 MB)
- Banking_laws-Rwanda.pdf (498 kB)
- Rwanda_Tbills_Calendar_June_2015-2016.pdf (213 kB)