19th August 2004.
Rwanda looks 20 years ahead

The Government of Rwanda is committed to establishing a competitive, diversified and balanced economy. The central goal of 2001-2010 is to concentrate on improving and expanding the economic foundation at a steady and firm pace.

THE OLD AND THE NEW: Dilapidated structures are being replaced with new, modern buildings.

The Government faces tremendous development challenges and it has developed a broad and long-term vision for development. Vision 2020 aims at enabling the Rwandan population to exit underdevelopment and poverty, in the context of a stable political environment based on peace and stability.

The vision illustrates Rwanda’s aspirations and also serves as a motivational performance indicator. It clarifies Rwanda’s current situation and points out where Rwanda should be in 20 years. The strategy aims at developing Rwanda into a middle-income country in 20 years, creating an information-rich, knowledge-based economy, developing human capacity as the primary resource and using ICT as an enabler to achieve other development goals.

The Government of Rwanda has made it a priority to shift the focus from emergency assistance and rehabilitation to sustainable development and private sector growth. It is actively promoting foreign investment.

Investment opportunities have increased with the passage by the National Assembly of a law on Privatisation and Public Investment in 1996
The Privatisation Secretariat started to work in October 1997 and today, about 30 public enterprises have been privatised and 50 are yet to be privatised.

By the end of 2000, there had been a remarkable improvement of Rwanda’s fiscal situation due to the establishment in 1998 of Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) with an improved tax collection system. As a member state of COMESA, Rwanda has published a legal instrument removing tariffs on COMESA-originating goods.

The National Assembly approved the new investment code in 1998, which resulted in the creation of the Rwandan Investment Promotion Agency (RIPA) to assist potential investors, and provide incentives to foreign investors (www.minecofin.gov.rw/investors/investment_incentives.htm.)
With the passage of this law, the Government aims at promoting investment opportunities in Rwanda more aggressively, and foreign investors are expected to make direct investment in new export-oriented sectors as stability is firmly established in the country.

RIPA also provides a one-stop shop for intending investors and the Government is committed to reducing transaction costs for all potential investors.

RIPA is actively working with the Privatisation Secretariat to attract foreign investors to bid for government-owned enterprises.

The Office of the Auditor General was established in 1999 to carry out a continuous audit of ministries, government-owned businesses and major projects. A new Regulatory Agency provides guidance on granting licences, enforcing regulations, addressing anti-competitive activities and implementing standards.

The Central Projects and External Finance Bureau CEPEX was created by the Government to promote optimal allocation of resources and avoid unproductive borrowing.

Its objective is to improve project formulation, monitoring, management and evaluation as well as mobilise external resources and coordinate international aid.

It is clear that the development of the economy cannot take place unless there is an effective, enabling state that supports the private sector.

The Chamber of Commerce was replaced by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation in 2000 and private capital is expected to gradually increase owing to greater confidence in the banking system and in the economy as a whole.

It is important to note that Rwanda has minimal corruption compared to many African countries. This has been facilitated by the creation in 1997 of a National Tender Board (NTB), which serves as the procurement agency for government purchases including those made by state-owned companies and international donors.

The NTB issues procurement rules and regulations and publicises tenders in local papers. The passage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act with a zero tariff on Rwanda exports to the United States is expected to significantly increase Rwanda areas of growth and boost trade, investment and development.

Rwandan embassies are committed to assisting Rwandans and foreigners willing to trade with and invest in the country. Additional information on the Rwandan economy is available on the Government’s website at www.rwanda1.com/government