Further to the publication of the new Strategic Plan of Survivors Fund (SURF) for 2024 to 2028, we will be publishing several posts to provide more context of our work – and implications for the the survivors of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda which we support.
The Rwandan economy has manifested impressive resilience and growth, propelled primarily by astute governmental policies and initiatives geared towards industrialization and infrastructural development. Since the 2000s, there has been a notable economic augmentation, significantly ameliorating the living standards of a broad segment of the population. The government, under President Paul Kagame, has articulated and pursued a vision of transforming Rwanda into the “Singapore of Africa,” leveraging strategic policies and initiatives to drive economic development.
Agriculture remains a significant pillar of the Rwandan economy, contributing substantially to export earnings, despite the strides made in diversification and industrialization. In addition to agricultural output, tourism, minerals, coffee, and tea are pivotal contributors to Rwanda’s foreign exchange. Even with its fecund ecosystems, meeting the food demand of the population poses a challenge, thus necessitating food imports.
Economic challenges, such as energy shortages and inadequate transportation linkages, linger, albeit amidst a backdrop of substantial economic recovery and growth since the devastating genocide of 1994. Post-genocide, the country has made remarkable progress, surpassing pre-1994 economic levels and achieving commendable strides in poverty reduction, women empowerment, and attracting investment.
The Rwandan government has adopted policies aimed at furthering social and economic development, notably through improvement in sectors like education and infrastructure, while also fostering an environment conducive to both domestic and foreign investment. The nation has garnered positive recognition for its business-friendly policies and transparency.
Rwanda’s development vision is articulated through aspirations to attain Middle Income Country (MIC) status by 2035 and High-Income Country (HIC) status by 2050. The roadmap towards these ambitions includes the National Strategies for Transformation (NST1), following the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies — EDPRS (2008-12) and EDPRS-2 (2013-18), which underpinned economic and social advancements, including an average growth of 7.5% over the decade to 2018, per capita GDP growth of 5% annually.
The economy showed resilience despite a challenging economic environment in 2022. After a strong rebound in 2021 from the COVID-19 induced-contraction in the preceding year, the economy faced multiple challenges in 2022 — pandemic scars, headwinds from the war in Ukraine, climate-related shocks, and mounting inflationary pressures. Despite these challenges, real GDP grew by 8.2% in 2022.
Implication for survivors and related vulnerable groups: The issue of youth unemployment is particularly acute for survivors (and second-generation survivors) due to the lack of contacts and collateral that they can access. Despite many survivors having had the opportunity to complete their secondary education through support from FARG, many do not have the skills to secure employment. Despite the focus on transitioning Rwanda from an agriculture-based to a knowledge-based economy, many of this group – as well as older widows – remain excluded from the job market and continue to rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.