Rwanda Industry

The industrial sector in Rwanda is still fairly undeveloped, despite the reconstruction going on since the 1994 genocide. Most factories are small and process agricultural products.

When Rwanda became independent from the colonial power of Belgium in 1962, there were hardly any industries at all in the new country. Much of what subsequently emerged was ravaged during the civil war in the early 1990s and during the 1994 genocide (see Modern History).

Almost all infrastructure needed to be repaired and construction soon became the dominant industry. Even today, the construction industry accounts for the majority of industrial production. Especially in Kigali, it has been built very new because of the rapid migration from the countryside and because the government wanted to make a quick modernization of the capital.

Development is slowing down for the manufacturing industry. The largest individual industry is a brewery. They also manufacture textiles, shoes, plastics, soap and matches. In the past, many industries were state-owned but now very privatized.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Rwanda. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.

The industry employs just under one fifth of the workforce that has formal employment. About half of them are in the construction sector.




Belgian court convicts Rwandans for genocide

December 20

A court in Brussels sentenced Rwandan Fabien Neretse to 25 years in prison for genocide in his home country in 1994. Agricultural expert Neretse, who defends his innocence, becomes the first person to be convicted under so-called universal jurisdiction for the Rwanda genocide in a court in Belgium. He is also convicted of war crimes for having ordered the murders of eleven civilian Tutsis in Kigali and surrounding areas. Neretse has lived in exile since 1994 but was arrested in 2011 in France. Belgium has previously sentenced eight people to murder in Rwanda in so-called universal jurisdiction in 1994. The judge says that during the legal process Neretse did not show pity or regret and that he was “extremely well organized” when creating his hutumilis.


Kagame overthrows the government

November 4th

President Kagame appoints a new Foreign Minister, the relatively untested Vincent Biruta, at the same time as the post of Minister of the Interior is re-established after being removed since 2016. The responsibility for home security lies with Patrick Nyamvumba. Kagame also appoints a new army commander, General Jean Bosco Kazura. Analysts believe that the changes are being made in the light of growing concerns both within the country and the region. Rwanda’s relations with Burundi have deteriorated recently. An attack on Burundi’s army near the Rwanda border in mid-November prompted the Burundi president to accuse the Kigali government of “armed aggression” (see Burundi, calendar, November 16, 2019).


Many dead in suspected FDLR scare

October 4th

At least 14 civilians are killed in a raid in northwestern Rwanda. The government is suing a faction of the FDLR resistance movement (see Political system) for carrying out the attack. Government soldiers must have followed the attackers and killed 19 of them and arrested five. The perpetrators must have entered Rwanda via the Volcanoes National Park, which borders on Congo-Kinshasa.


First group of refugees arrive

September 26th

Sixty-six African refugees and asylum seekers are being flown from Libya to Kigali in accordance with the agreement signed by Rwanda with the UN and AU earlier this month.

Opposition politicians are murdered

September 24th

Syridio Dusabumuremyi, a member of the opposition party FDU-Inkingi, is murdered in a knife attack. Party leader Victoire Ingabire expresses concern over a series of unsolved murders and disappearances that have affected party members. However, police say two suspected perpetrators have been arrested for the murder of Syridio Dusabumuremyi.

Hutumilis leader killed

September 17th

Warlord Sylvestre Mudacumura, one of the leaders of the Hutumilis Democratic Forces Liberation Rwanda (FDLR), is shot dead by Congolese soldiers in the North Kivu province of Congo-Kinshasa. The Kigali government describes the event as “good news for peace and security in the region”. Mudacumura was wanted by the ICC for suspected war crimes such as rape, torture and looting. FDLR was formed by Hutus who moved from Rwanda to the neighboring country after the 1994 genocide.

Refugee agreement with AU and UN

September 10

Rwanda is to receive hundreds, perhaps thousands, of African refugees and asylum seekers stranded in Libya. It is an agreement between Rwanda, the AU and the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The first 500 people arrive from Libya within a few weeks. Most of them originate in the Horn of Africa. According to the UN, about 42,000 refugees are in Libya. Rwanda has said it is prepared to receive up to 30,000 of them, but in rounds of 500 so that the situation becomes manageable.


Reconciliation agreement with Uganda

21th of August

Rwanda and Uganda sign an agreement to reduce tensions between the two neighboring countries, which have been fighting a post-war war for months. After the two presidents Kagame and Museveni became enemies, in February Rwanda closed the border with Uganda in the north. The conflict escalated in March when Rwanda accused Uganda of abducting Rwandan citizens and supporting rebels who want to overthrow Kagame and his government. Uganda, for its part, accused Rwanda of spying and seizing and expelling several Rwandans. In May, Ugandan police accused Rwanda’s military of having crossed the border and killed two Ugandan men, something Rwanda’s government denies. In the new agreement, signed in Angola, the two countries promise to respect each other’s sovereignty and abstain from acts that undermine the stability of the neighboring country. The discontent between the country’s leaders has led to reduced trade and damaged the economy in the area. The agreement aims to set the point for this.

FT: “false poverty rates”

August 14th

President Kagame’s government provided false information on poverty in the country between 2011 and 2014. The Financial Times reports. The government claimed that poverty decreased during the period when it actually increased.


Kagame meets Uganda’s president

July 12

President Kagame meets with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in an effort to reduce the tensions that arose in February 2019, when Rwanda closed the border with Uganda, damaging both countries’ economy.


Tense relations with Uganda

March 5th

Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera says the government has information that the resistance group RNC is acting from within Uganda and is receiving support from the neighboring country. The government of Kigali discourages Rwandans from traveling to Uganda. The RNC is led by Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army and closely familiar with Kagame. However, the two became enemies in 2010 and Rwanda has issued an arrest warrant for the now exiled Nyamwasa, who is suspected of terrorism.


Rwanda closes border crossing to Uganda

February 4th

Rwanda closes an important border crossing to Uganda, causing major delays in cross-border transport and quickly leading to a decline in trade. The background is deteriorating relations between the two presidents of the countries.

Rwanda Industry

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