In which sectors do you expect to see increased investment and / or financial movement in the next 18 months?
Growth in Rwanda is expected in the following areas:
This sector is mostly dominated by banks and telecommunication companies. The reality is that most of the population do not use either of the aforementioned services (particularly banking — only 36% of Rwandans use banks), and these institutions have been offering novel and accessible solutions to ensure that their customer base grows.
The financial services market has therefore seen and will continue to see more creative solutions such as the introduction of digital platforms, mobile banking, agency banking outlets and lending packages that appeal to the general public.
The establishment of the Kigali International Financial Centre has prompted the enacting and updating of critical business legislation in Rwanda (Companies Act, Investment Code, Partnership Law and Anti-money Laundering Law) in addition to the numerous double taxation agreements with the aim of positioning the country as a regional financial hub.
Due to the limit of movement and cashless solutions imposed by the pandemic, many operators seized the opportunity and provided multiple payment solutions. Although this sector is still small, it is expected to continue growing rapidly. This has been boosted further by the scrapping of e-wallet transfer fees (bank account to mobile money and vice versa) which were previously as high as 6% of the transfer amount in some instances.
Real-estate, construction and manufacturing
With government incentive programs such as the Manufacture and Build to Recover Program (MBRP) that was put in place designed to support private sector investors, the real estate, construction and manufacturing sectors are expected to maintain their growth momentum.
Agriculture and agri-processing took a big hit due to the pandemic but are expected to rebound as the economy continues to reopen.
Hospitality and tourism
This has been, arguably, the most adversely affected industry in Rwanda. Many novel and innovative solutions have been offered by the players in this industry in an attempt to stay afloat and save their businesses. With the pandemic reaching a calm of sorts, the roll-out of vaccinations and many countries opening their borders for travel once again, this sector is expected to recover.
Transportation and logistics
Due to the restriction of movement at the global and national level, several companies not involved in the transportation of critical goods (food, fuel and medication) were severely affected. Accordingly, the lifting of these restrictions in most parts the world, including Rwanda, means that the sector is expected to rebound.
Where do you see the key areas of growth or opportunity for businesses?
As mentioned above, key areas of growth or opportunity now lie in novel, innovative, accessible and appealing packages and solutions for consumers that encourage spending and as a result bring businesses back to a stable financial footing.
The pandemic has forced many businesses to adapt and established a new normal which goes beyond the traditional demand-supply, marketing, and transacting methods. E-commerce is undoubtedly one of the key areas of growth and opportunity for most businesses, with new entrants in sectors such as food delivery and the ordinary brick and mortar supermarkets establishing an online presence.
Which sectors have been most affected by COVID-19 and what have businesses in those sectors done to cope with these changes or potentially benefit from new opportunities?
The hospitality, leisure, conferencing and tourism sectors were the most affected. These businesses have had to implement innovative solutions by tapping into the domestic tourism market to remain afloat. Additionally, the government has created the Economic Recovery Fund to support recovery of businesses that were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Businesses eligible for this program include: tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, micro and small enterprises and the informal sector, such as food and flea markets or street vendors.
What is the most relevant regional or pan-African economic trend that you expect to see in the next 18 months?
The most significant economic trend we expect is continued growth in East Africa, which grew at 6.7% between 2012 and 2017 and set the pace for growth in Africa before COVID-19. Additionally, with a majority of East African countries being signatories to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there will be more opportunities to expand into new markets.
To optimise this growth, there have been major investments in energy and infrastructure by the governments in East Africa, including road and rail networks.
In terms of the legal services market, what growth are you seeing on the horizon in the next 18 months?
In terms of the legal services market, there will be growth in e-commerce and payment systems advisory services, as movement restrictions have driven consumers to online solutions.
In terms of clients, there has been an increase in employment related matters, insolvency or redundancy and restructuring.
What do you expect the general business mood to be in your country in the next 18 months?
The general mood is definitely hopeful and optimistic due to the numerous government interventions towards ensuring recovery of the economy. With most of the adult population in Kigali fully vaccinated, business activity is expected to fully return to normal soon.
The general ease of doing business in Rwanda is expected to aid the country’s recovery plan. Rwanda is ranked second in the recent World Bank Doing Business and Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and fourth in the World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index. Further, Rwanda has a friendly visa regime with visa exemption for more than 100 countries.