Rwanda flag Rwanda: Investing in Rwanda

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Rwanda

FDI in Figures

Although FDI stocks have increased in recent years due to Rwanda's political stability and measures focused on improving the business climate, FDI flows still remain rather weak. According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2023, FDI inflows to Rwanda remained unchanged compared to the previous year, totalling USD 399 million. At the end of the same period, the stock of FDI was estimated at USD 3.3 billion, around 26.2% of the country’s GDP. From 2008 to 2022, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) documented 1,279 investment initiatives within the nation. These endeavors were anticipated to encompass an aggregate investment value of approximately USD 13.5 billion USD, aiming to generate around 200,000 employment opportunities. Anticipated investment inflows escalated from an average of USD 530 million USD during 2008-2015 to USD 1.3 billion USD during 2016-2022. According to balance of payments statistics, roughly three-fifths of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock originates from other African nations (primarily Mauritius, Kenya, and South Africa), as well as from the United States and India (Bank of Rwanda). The Foreign Private Capital (FPC) census conducted by the National Bank of Rwanda reveals that overall FDI inflows are concentrated in the financial sector, construction, tourism, and manufacturing.

Rwanda boasts a history of robust economic growth and a notable reputation for low corruption. The country does not impose statutory limits on foreign ownership or control, nor does it have official economic or industrial strategies that discriminate against foreign investors. Both local and foreign investors enjoy the right to establish and own business enterprises across all lucrative activities. Long-term leases, known as emphyteutic leases, are available to citizens and foreigners alike for residential and commercial purposes, typically lasting 99 years and renewable. Foreign investors can also obtain land through concessional agreements with the government, with a maximum duration of 99 years, but renewable upon agreement. The Investment Code presents a comprehensive set of benefits and incentives for registered investors in key growth sectors, subject to specific conditions. These incentives comprise preferential corporate income tax rates, withholding tax advantages, tax holidays, exemptions from customs duties on goods utilized within export processing zones, and support for internationalization efforts. Additionally, supplementary incentives are extended through the "Manufacture and Build to Recover Program" (MBRP), aimed at stimulating economic revitalization particularly focusing on manufacturing, agro-processing, construction, and real estate development sectors. On the other hand, the low human resource capacity of Rwanda, the poor infrastructure, its landlockedness and its high operating costs are some of the factors that limit the potential attractiveness of the country. Rwanda ranks 103rd among the 132 economies on the Global Innovation Index 2023 and 135th out of 184 countries on the latest Index of Economic Freedom.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 202020212022
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 274399399
FDI Stock (million USD) 2,7072,9383,327
Number of Greenfield Investments* 51010
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 242275368

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Rwanda Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 8.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 9.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 5.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business, Latest available data

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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What to consider if you invest in Rwanda

Strong Points
Among the reasons to invest in Rwanda are:
-a steady and high growth rate (averaging over 7% in the last decade)
-it is one of the most favourable business environments on the African continent
-significant progress in governance and relative political stability
-low levels of corruption (for the standards of the region)
-important natural resources: the country has reserves of cassiterite, coltan, gold and precious stones (like aquamarine, ruby, sapphire)
-a high potential for the tourism industry
-governmental incentives for foreign investors.
Weak Points
Some of the factors that could hinder Rwanda’s attractiveness for FDIs are:
-a high dependence on commodity prices and international aid
-the country’s location, with exposure to geopolitical tensions in the Great Lakes region
-a high demographic pressure, with one of the highest population density rates in Africa
-a shortage of qualified labour
-its small domestic market and,
-insufficient coordination between the RDB, RRA, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Rwanda Directorate of Immigration and Emigration can lead to inconsistent application of incentives for FDIs.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The government of Rwanda seeks to attract more foreign direct investments and in May 2015 approved a new Investment Code aimed at providing tax breaks and other incentives to investors, such as:
- for an international company with its headquarters or regional office in Rwanda, a preferential corporate income tax rate of 0%
- for any investor, a preferential corporate income tax rate of 15%
- corporate income tax holiday of up to 7 years
- exemption from taxation on capital gains
- exemption of customs tax for products used in Export Processing Zones
- VAT refund (foreign firms should receive VAT tax rebates within 15 days of receipt by the RRA, although many companies reported delays in the reimbursement process, from a few months up to several years in some cases)
- accelerated depreciation
- immigration documents facilitation
- various Special Economic Zones have been established, including the Kigali Free Zone (KFZ) and the Kigali Industrial Park free-trade zone.
Further details on benefits under the Investment Code can be accessed here: https://www.visitrwanda.com/investment/how-to-invest/one-stop-centre/

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Latest Update: April 2024

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