Rwanda

Ease of Doing Business Rank: 38

Overview

 

Geographic location

Rwanda is a small landlocked country in Central/East Africa.
Uganda lies to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west.

Spoken language

Kinyarwanda is the national language of Rwanda. According to the 2012 census, 99% of inhabitants speak the language.

French, English and Swahili are official languages, but only spoken by a very small percentage of Rwandans.

Population

The 2019 population estimate 12.63 million.
Kigali is the largest city with over 1.1 million inhabitants. The remaining cities are all under 100,000 inhabitants.

Popular industries

The top industries in Rwanda are energy, agriculture, trade, hospitality, construction and financial services.

Education

The Legatum Prosperity Index ranks Rwanda’s education system 121st out of 149.

Popular entity types

The most common type of business entities in Rwanda are the limited liability company and public limited liability company.

The overwhelming majority of businesses are in the form of a limited liability company.

Rwandan incentives for business

Rwanda offers a seven-year tax holiday for substantial investments in manufacturing, information and communications technology involving manufacturing, assembly, service, health, exports and some energy projects on behalf of the government.

Qualifying international companies with regional offices in Rwanda may also enjoy a 0% CIT rate. Registered investors in export, energy, transport of goods and/or passengers, financial services, investment, insurance and construction of low-cost housing may enjoy a 15% CIT rate.

Micro-finance institutions may qualify for a five-year tax holiday.

Export businesses operating in Export Processing Zones (EPZs) are exempt from customs on products used in the area.

Qualifying companies may also be exempt from capital gains tax.

Rwanda also offers a foreign tax credit on income generated from business activities performed abroad by a tax resident.

History & Features

 

Main cities for business

Kigali is the capital and center of business and finance in Rwanda.

Popular historical & tourist attractions

Rwanda has many amazing natural and heritage tourist attractions. This includes the Volcanoes National Park, home to over 400 gorillas and one of only three places in the world where you can see them in their natural habitat.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is equally impressive, with its wide array of primates in over 1,000 square kilometers of rainforest. Akagera National Park in the savannah grasslands features elephants, hippos, giraffes, zebras, and more.

The capital city includes the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in memory of those lost during the Rwandan Civil War. In just 100 days, extremists killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Butare is the cultural hub for the country and home to the national museum. It documents Rwanda’s history and how it progressed through history. Nearby Nyabisindu features a replica of the royal residence of King Mutara III Rudahigwa, built by Belgium in 1931.

History

Tutsis migrated to the region in the 1300s, which was already inhabited by the Twa and Hutu peoples. By the 1600s, Tutsis ruled central Rwanda and outlying Hutu areas. In the 19th century, they formed a unified state with a military structure.

The first Europeans arrived at this time, and by 1890 Rwanda became a part of German East Africa. However, during World War I Belgian forces occupied Rwanda and later ruled the nation indirectly through Tutsi kings.

Belgium continued to rule Rwanda after World War II. The ruling Tutsi elite formed a political party in 1959 in hopes of independence. The Hutu majority also formed a political party. As elections approached in 1960, a Hutu uprising led to thousands of Tutsi deaths and many fled the country.

In 1961, Rwanda became an independent republic with a Hutu as president. More Tutsi fled the country or faced violence and discrimination.

A military coup in 1973 toppled the government and the army chief of staff assumed presidential power.
Meanwhile, Rwandan refugees in exile mobilized during the seventies and eighties and eventually formed the Rwandese Patriotic Front. The strained relations between Hutu and Tutsi exploded when the plane carrying the long-standing Hutu president was shot down in 1994.

A coordinated massacre of Tutsis, relatives and unsympathetic Hutus ensued. The governments of Rwanda estimates over a million lives were lost, primarily due to Tutsi heritage.

That year, the Rwandese Patriotic Front seized Kigali and formed an administration including five political parties. The new leaders focused on rebuilding the economy, national reconciliation and security.

The UN Security Council also created the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Millions of Hutu fled to Zaire and Tanzania. Rwanda attempted to repatriate its refugees in Zaire. However, the Hutus had the support of the government.

The Zairean regime fell in 1997 and became the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the new government did not return the Hutu militias to Rwanda. Finally, in 2002 Rwanda agreed to withdraw providing the DRC government would disarm Hutu militia. By 2005, the Hutu rebel group ended its armed struggle.

Rwanda signed a peace agreement with the DRC and they agreed to hand over those implicated in the genocide. The country entered a high period of economic growth and today Rwanda is a presidential republic with one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.

Other relevant facts

The majority of Rwandans are Christian. The 2002 census reports 56.9% of Rwandans are Roman Catholic, 26 % Protestant, and 11.1% Seventh-day Adventist. A further 4.6% are Muslim and 1.7% claim no or other religious affiliations.

The largest ethnic groups in Rwanda are Hutu (85%), followed by Tutsi (14%), and Twa (1%).

Additional Information for Business

According to Forbes’ 2019 Best Countries for Business, Rwanda is the 90th best country in the world for conducting business.

The 2019 Index of Economic Freedom rates Rwanda 32nd globally and states, “Progress toward greater economic freedom is hindered by continuing institutional weaknesses.”

World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings rate Rwanda 29th for ease of doing business in the world.

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