The Biggest Industries in Rwanda

Tea fields in Rwanda.
Tea fields in Rwanda.

Rwanda is an African nation with a rapidly growing economy. Towards the end of the 20th century, the Rwandese economy suffered significantly as a result of the genocide that rocked the country. Before the genocide, the Rwandese economy experienced significant growth, and after the genocide, the government put in place several policies to ensure that the country was on the path to economic growth once again. The policies of the Rwandese government ensured that the country's limited natural resources were adequately utilized to grow the country's economy. The Rwandese economy is reliant on several industries such as agriculture, tourism, and cement manufacturing among others.


For much of the 21st century, the tourism industry in Rwanda has been one of the country's most vibrant industries. According to the Rwandese government in 2010, more than 660,000 people visited the country. At the time, the tourism industry earned the country more than $200 million which was an increase of roughly 14% from the sector's earnings in 2009. In 2017, the tourism sector contributed roughly 13% of the country's gross domestic product and employed more than 130,000 people. After the genocide, the government of Rwanda has worked hard to promote the country as a global tourist destination. One of the measures that the Rwandese government put in place to improve the country's tourism sector was partnering with Arsenal, a soccer team from England. The deal between Rwanda and Arsenal would last for three years, and the country would be able to leverage Arsenal's global popularity to increase the number of tourists who visited the country. The Rwandese government announced that as a result of the deal with Arsenal, the number of visitors from the UK had increased by over 20%. Tourists are mainly attracted to Rwanda by the country's wildlife, particularly hippos and mountain gorillas. Several international hotels have been set up in Rwanda to take advantage of the large number of tourists who visit the country.


Another essential industry in Rwanda is agriculture which contributed roughly 33% of the country's gross domestic product in 2012. The Rwandese government estimated that more than 90% of the country's labor force was involved in the agricultural sector. The importance of Rwanda's agriculture can be attributed to the fact that roughly 60% of the country's area has fertile soils. Farmers in Rwanda grow a wide variety of crops such as pyrethrum, coffee, and tea which are mainly geared towards the export market, and millet, sorghum and sweet potatoes that are primarily sold locally. Coffee is one of Rwanda's most vital commercial crops because more than 500,000 families depend on it for their survival.


Even though Rwanda is a landlocked nation, fishing is still one of the most important activities carried out within the country. The Rwandese government estimated that the fishing industry employed more than 200,000 people in a variety of jobs such as fishing and processing the fish. Some of the most common species of fish in the country include the Nile Tilapia, the Tanganyika sardine, and the barbus. Fishing in Rwanda is primarily carried out in Lake Kivu, a 1,040 square mile lake that Rwanda shares with the DRC. Other areas in Rwanda where fishing is carried out include Lake Mugesera and Lake Muhazi. The Rwandese fisheries department estimated that wild fisheries provided approximately 9,000 tons of fish each year. In recent years, Rwandese fishermen have begun practicing aquaculture which, according to the Rwandese government contributed 4,000 tons of fish to the country.


One of Rwanda's essential industries is the mining industry which earned the country roughly $68 million in 2010. Some of the essential minerals in Rwanda include tin and tungsten. Most of Rwanda's minerals are sold to other nations, and in 2010 they accounted for roughly 15% of the country's total exports. In 2010, the most critical mineral in Rwanda was tin ore as it earned the country $42.2 million. Coltan earned the country $18.48 million while tungsten ore earned the country $7.1 million. The most important mine in Rwanda is the Rutongo mine which produces more than 100 tons of tin each month. 

Energy Generation

One of Rwanda's key industries is energy generation, with renewable energy being used to meet most of the country's energy requirements. The Rwandese government estimated that in 2016, more than 50% of the electricity used in the country was generated from hydropower. Nyarobongo Power Station and Rukarara Hydroelectric Power Station are some of Rwanda's most essential hydropower projects. Solar power is also one of Rwanda's most essential sources of energy since it was used to produce more than 8% of the electricity used in the country.

Challenges Facing Rwanda's Economy

One of the most significant challenges facing the Rwandese economy is the country's high unemployment rate which stood at 16.7% in 2017. Another major challenge facing Rwanda's economy was insufficient skilled labor as a large number of people fled the country after the genocide.


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