Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic slowing Rwanda’s impressive economic growth, Amujae Leader and CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi, was optimistic about her country’s future and highlighted opportunities for growth and development in the coming years.
In a recent conversation with host Zain Verjee during the Qatar Economic Forum hosted by Bloomberg, Ms. Akamanzi emphasized the remarkable progress Rwanda’s economy made in the years prior to the pandemic: “If you look at 2019, Rwanda was among the fastest-growing economies in the world. We grew at 9.4% and we had an 8% growth on average for the decade before 2019.” However, like most countries, Rwanda was negatively affected by the pandemic, and the Rwandan economy shrunk by 3.4% in 2020.
Despite this, Ms. Akamanzi was confident that through adjustments to Rwanda’s development strategy in light of the pandemic, the country’s future was promising.
Before the pandemic, Rwanda was heavily reliant on attracting tourism through business events and conferences, but the country now plans to pivot to alternative tourism options that the government believes can survive within the context of a pandemic and beyond. Rwanda recently successfully hosted the debut of the NBA’s new Basketball Africa League in Kigali, bringing a number of visitors to the region. A new focus on sports tourism will help drive recovery and growth for the country: “While we can have conferences on Zoom, sports events need to be done mostly physically,” explained Ms. Akamanzi.
Agriculture and manufacturing will also be important parts of Rwanda’s development. According to Ms. Akamanzi, “The key with manufacturing is that the domestic market is very important in consuming the products from the manufacturing sector.” Increasing the country’s capacity for agriculture and manufacturing will support the domestic market and help Rwanda’s economy move away from a reliance on the service sector.
Hopeful about the future of the continent, Ms. Akamanzi encouraged more members of the global community to take stock of exciting developments on the horizon.
“If you look at the investment opportunities that the African continent has, a lot of opportunities exist, and Rwanda has put in place the policies, the laws, and the regulations to make it really work for us.”
Watch the full video here.