Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda is a sovereign state in central and east Africa. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. Rwanda Flag

For centuries, Rwanda existed as a centralized monarchy under a succession of Tutsi kings from one clan, who ruled through cattle chiefs, land chiefs and military chiefs. The king was supreme but the rest of the population, Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa, lived in symbiotic harmony. In 1899, Rwanda became a German colony and, in 1919, the system of indirect rule continued with Rwanda as a mandate territory of the League of Nations, under Belgium. From 1959, Batutsi were targeted, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and sending almost two million of them into exile. The First Republic, under President Gregoire Kayibanda, and the second, under President Juvenal Habyarimana, institutionalized discrimination against Batutsi and subjected them to periodmassacres. [1]

Government Structure

The President of Rwanda is the head of state, and has broad powers including creating policy in conjunction with the Cabinet, exercising the prerogative of mercy, commanding the armed forces, negotiating and ratifying treaties, signing presidential orders, and declaring war or a state of emergency. The President is elected by popular vote every seven years, and appoints the Prime Minister and all other members of Cabinet. The incumbent President is Paul Kagame, who took office upon the resignation of his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, in 2000. Kagame subsequently won elections in 2003 and 2010, although human rights organisations have criticised these elections as being “marked by increasing political repression and a crackdown on free speech”.

Rwanda has been governed by a strict hierarchy since precolonial times. Before colonisation, the King (Mwami) exercised control through a system of provinces, districts, hills, and neighbourhoods. The current constitution divides Rwanda into provinces (intara), districts (uturere), cities, municipalities, towns, sectors (imirenge), cells (utugari), and villages (imidugudu); the larger divisions, and their borders, are established by Parliament. The five provinces act as intermediaries between the national government and their constituent districts to ensure that national policies are implemented at the district level. The “Rwanda Decentralisation Strategic Framework” developed by the Ministry of Local Government assigns to provinces the responsibility for “coordinating governance issues in the Province, as well as monitoring and evaluation.” Each province is headed by a governor, appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The districts are responsible for coordinating public service delivery and economic development. They are divided into sectors, which are responsible for the delivery of public services as mandated by the districts. Districts and sectors have directly elected councils, and are run by an executive committee selected by that council. The cells and villages are the smallest political units, providing a link between the people and the sectors. All adult resident citizens are members of their local cell council, from which an executive committee is elected. The city of Kigali is a provincial-level authority, which coordinates urban planning within the city. [1]

Existing Transportation Network [2]

The transport sector is one of the key engines of growth in an economy. Improving the quality and reliability of transport infrastructure and services is a major building block for reducing transport costs, attracting domestic and foreign investment, and expanding access to economic opportunities. The Government of Rwanda recognizes that more needs to be done to address existing constraints in the transport sector and to offset the geographical bottlenecks which continue to drive the high transportation costs in Rwanda relative to the region. Indeed, an efficient transport sector is central to achieving the objectives of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 whose overarching goal is to transform the country from a low-income agrarian economy to a medium income export-oriented and knowledge-based economy.

Air Transport

International air transportation in Rwanda is currently limited to the Kigali International Airport (KIA), which has experienced appreciable growth in traffic over the years. Between 2007 and 2010, aircraft movements at the KIA increased by 38% while passenger volumes increased by 34%. A higher increase in aircraft movements compared to passenger volumes was perhaps because RwandAir continued to operate smaller aircraft at higher frequencies since mid-2005. This resulted in a reduction in average seats and passengers per aircraft and an increase in aircraft movements.

The high air traffic growth rates are expected to continue in Rwanda with some projections indicating that the capacity of the KIA is likely to be achieved in 2015. The predicted medium-term growth of traffic volumes in Rwanda are estimated at about 1.3 million passengers, 15,500 tonnes of cargo and 17,712 aircraft movements per year by 2025.

Road Transport Infrastructure

Road transport is the dominant mode of travel in Rwanda, catering for the bulk of domestic passenger travel and freight traffic demands. Rwanda is dependent on its road transport system for the economic development of the country. All the major towns are connected by the road network. Rwanda is also well connected by the road transport system with the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The road system plays a very important role in the import and export business of the country. The main freight on Rwandan roads consists of agricultural products, construction materials, household goods, foodstuffs and minerals. Estimates of the 2010 passenger traffic volumes contained in the STMP of Rwanda indicate that many roads have low levels of traffic.

The road transport in Rwanda has greatly improved through rehabilitation and upgrading of various roads which has resulted in faster economic development of the country. Rwanda has a total road network of 14,008 kilometres broken down as follows:

Paved Roads: 2,662 kilometres

Unpaved: 11,346 kilometres

Roads in Rwanda are classified into national, districts and gravels. Classified roads constitute about 34% of the entire road network in Rwanda. These can be summarized as below;

National Road: 2860 kilometres

District Roads: 1835 kilometres

Gravel Roads: 3.5 kilometres

The high-volume roads are the cross-border highways, which provide links to the country’s major production and economically active regions. The remaining road links have passenger volumes of less than1,000 per day. Freight traffic routes are similar to those of passengers with the main routes being those between Kigali and the towns of Muhanga, Rwamagana and Base.

Passenger volumes are expected to increase at the projected population growth rates of 2.3% or slightly higher, while freight volumes will depend on economic growth rates and expansion of the range and volume of the main goods being transported. Such growth is expected to average about 10%.

Water Transport

This is the largest lake in Rwanda forming the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are limited modern boat services between the major ports of Cyangugu, Kibuye and Gisenyi. The local boats are most common means of transport on the lake.

Air Transport

The department of Air transport is responsible for promotion of effective competition and economic efficiency, protection of consumer interests, protection of financial viability of efficient suppliers, ensuring availability of regulated services to all consumers of air transport services.

It is also responsible for monitoring the performance of service providers, establishing and implementation of procedures for the regulation of air transport services in Rwanda through monitoring the performance of air services operators, monitoring fares and rates to ensure fair play.

Kigali International Airport located about 10 km from Kigali city centre is the country’s main gateway by airport. The airport handles international flights to Lagos, Brazzaville, Dubai, Nairobi, Entebbe, Addis Ababa, Bujumbura, Johannesburg, Amsterdam, Brussels and Doha.

Economic Development [3]

The Rwandan economy is based on the largely rain-fed agricultural production of small, semi-subsistence, and increasingly fragmented farms. It has few natural resources to exploit and a small, non-competitive industrial sector. While the production of coffee and tea is well-suited to the small farms, steep slopes, and cool climates of Rwanda and has ensured access to foreign exchange over the years, farm size continues to decrease.

The country entered a high period of economic growth in 2006, and the following year managed to register 8% economic growth, a record it has sustained since, turning it into one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. This sustained economic growth has succeeded in reducing poverty, with growth between 2006 and 2011 reducing the percentage of the country’s population living in poverty from 57% to 45%.The country’s infrastructure has also grown rapidly, with connections to electricity going from 91,000 in 2006 to 215,000 in 2011.

Existing foreign investment is concentrated in commercial establishments, mining, tea, coffee, and tourism. Minimum wage and social security regulations are in force, and the four pre-war independent trade unions are back in operation.


[2] Rwanda Transport Sector Review and Action Plan, Africa Development Bank


Visit Us On Linkedin