WTO accession
22 May 1996
Per capita growth rate (%)
WB Ease of Doing Business rank
Share of international non-oil trade (%)
Value of non-oil goods traded (in US$ million)
Logistics performance Index (LPI)
2011 data - Sources: UNCTAD, World Bank, WTO, UN Comtrade

Rwanda joined the Integrated Framework (IF) in 2004 and undertook a Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) which was validated in September 2005. The DTIS recommendations were incorporated in Rwanda's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS I) 2008-2012 and several of the DTIS recommendations were taken forward by a variety of agencies.


The EDPRS I had a wider trade coverage drawing from the DTIS reflected in its pillar one, targeting growth, economy-wide improvements in productivity to create employment, generate exports and transform Rwanda's economy towards commercial agriculture, manufacturing and services.


Under the IF, Rwanda implemented two Window II projects including: (i) a capacity‐building project to support the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives (MINICOM) in finalizing its strategic plan, identifying capacity‐building needs and assessing their implementation; and (ii) a participatory rural development project for enhanced access to coffee washing stations.


Under the first project, a National Implementation Unit (NIU) was set up. Under the second project, technical assistance was provided to the former OCIR-CAFÉ to establish the Rwanda Coffee Marketing Alliance to facilitate farmers to sell their coffee on international markets. A project on the coffee sector was also developed and implemented aiming to connect eight coffee washing stations in Rubavu District through the construction of a 25 km road.


Under the EIF, before the operationalization of the EIF Trust Fund, Rwanda undertook a DTIS Update (DTISU) that was funded by the ITC. The DTISU was validated in 2011.

Description of the projects (objectives and interventions)

Under the EIF, Rwanda's Tier 1 'Support to National Implementation Arrangements (NIAs)' project was approved by the EIF Board in September 2009 and has been under implementation since October 2009. As part of the Government of Rwanda's decision to more effectively streamline donor funded projects in Government Ministries, a Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) was established in MINICOM to take on the functions of existing projects and the functions of the EIF NIU were taken over by the SPIU at the end of 2011.

The EIF Tier 1 project aims at enabling the SPIU and the National Steering Committee (NSC) to effectively steer the EIF process in the country and increase ownership of trade-related technical assistance.

Main progresses to date

Setting up and operationalizing the SPIU at MINICOM has been a key achievement with support of the EIF. The SPIU was set up to ensure synergies and sustainability for externally funded projects. The SPIU also coordinates other donor funded projects relating to Aid for Trade (AfT) and investment.

The EIF Tier 1 project is fully integrated into the SPIU; the EIF NSC's terms of reference are shared by the SPIU's Steering Committee and the National Trade Forum, a high-level forum guiding the country's trade policy and implementation.

Trade priorities have been mainstreamed into the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II 2013-2018), notably into priority area two "Increasing the external connectivity of Rwanda's economy and boosting exports".  Furthermore, trade has been mainstreamed into key sector strategies for the implementation of the EDPRS II including the Strategic plan for the Transformation of Agriculture in Rwanda Phase III, Infrastructure (Energy & Transport), Financial Sector Development and the National Cross-Border Trade Strategy.

Moreover, Rwanda has also successfully mainstreamed trade in a number of strategy papers including the National Export Strategy (NES) revised in 2012 taking into consideration the DTISU results, the Crop Intensification Programme Marketing Strategy, the Rwanda Logistics and Distribution Services Strategy and other agricultural sector strategies.The NES is under implementation and quarterly trade performance reports are produced to evaluate its state of implementation. 

Rwanda has also launched the Private Sector Development Strategy (2013-2018) and the National Cross Border Trade Strategy (2013-2018). To support implementation of the National Cross Border Trade Strategy, feasibility studies for cross border trade market infrastructure were completed with detailed designs for six Districts bordering other EIF countries (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda). This has laid the groundwork of developing and finalizing a Tier 2 project proposal on improving the cross-border business environment as envisioned in Rwanda's National Cross Border Trade Strategy.

Rwanda's Tier 1 mid-term evaluation was carried out by an independent consultant in 2013 and was found to be satisfactory in achieving results. Recommendations were provided to feed into the design of the next Tier 1 second phase and to guide project implementation.

The EIF Tier 1 project has supported Rwanda's (Government and Private Sector) active participation in regional and global trade negotiations including: the East African Community (EAC); the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite trade negotiations; the EAC-EU-EPA negotiations; the WTO Global Review meeting of Tripartite sectoral Ministerial committee on trade and industry; the Central corridor regional stakeholder's consultative committee workshop; and the Fourth Global Review of AfT. The SPIU has also participated in the first M&E and Communications Regional Workshop for African Anglophone countries held in Zambia in April 2013.

Rwanda is one of the eight pilot countries for the UN Delivering as One initiative. In addition to the EIF, the SPIU is funded by the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and UNIDO. In terms of joint donor initiatives, the EIF has joined hands with the European Union to improve market access, and with AfDB and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) on transport, market infrastructure and trade logistics. Additionally, as part of the SPIU support together with the United Kingdom's Department for International Development and TMEA, the Rwanda Trade Logistics and Distribution Services Strategy has been jointly supported.

In 2013, 64 MINICOM staff and 446 district staff received training related to trade in areas such as trade negotiations, trade in services, e-commerce & logistics, tariff liberalization, trade and development, geographical information systems, project management, proximity business advisory services and M&E.

Information on the DTISU validated in 2011 was also disseminated in a workshop in 2013 for 80 stakeholders predominantly from the Private Sector Federation in the Eastern province.

With EIF support, MINICOM has constructed a modern show room known as "Ikaze Show Room" in Kigali for top quality hand-made products by skilled and innovative Rwandese artisans. Additionally, support has been provided to access new markets, especially in Europe for Rwandese handicrafts as well as hosting product trade fairs.

An action plan for increased domestic production exports growth 2013-2014 was developed for exports with high export potential (horticulture, tea, coffee, mining, manufacturing, sugar, rice, wheat, construction materials and cement) by 2015. The plan presents the available budget and shows potential resources for unbudgeted items. The action plan is being used as Rwanda's Medium term programme.

Rwanda benefitted from the EIF gender capacity building module implemented by ITC in November 2011. Gender is now considered as a key tool for development in the National Trade Policy. Priority is also given to gender as a cross cutting issue in National development strategies i.e., Vision 2020, EDPRS, Decentralization Policy and National Gender Policy to: i) Promote Gender Equality and empower women to initiate economic activities and participate in trade; and ii) Establish mechanism to remove all barriers that pose constraints to women's access to and control over productive resources.

Rwanda has also benefitted from a joint project development module developed by the Executive Secretariat for the EIF together with STDF and the University of Wolverhampton. The module rolled out in 2011 in Rwanda has helped the preparation of Tier 2 project proposals.

Outcome 1: Sufficient Institutional and management capacity built in EIF countries to formulate and implement Trade related strategies & implementation plans
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O1.1 Tier 1 ' Support to NIAs' project completed or under implementationYesYes
O1.2 EIF Country with complete, up-to-date validated DTIS Action MatricesNoYes
O1.3 Level of capacity of NIU to perform fiduciary programme management for Tier 1 project32
O1.4 Country with up-to date trade strategiesNoYes
O1.5 Country with quality trade strategyN/A1
O1.6 Country with quality trade strategy implementedN/A1
Outcome 2: EIF countries mainstream trade into their national development strategies and plans
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O2.1 Trade in PRSP and/or National development strategies11
O2.2 Existence of productive sector strategies integrating the trade dimensionYesYes
O2.3 Functioning public/private consultation mechanism11
Outcome 3: Coordinated delivery of trade related resources (funding, TA etc.) by donors & implementing agencies to implement country priorities following adoption of DTIS Action Matrix
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O3.1 Availability of an annual rolling implementation overview integrating all trade-related government & donor-supported activities (including gender & environment)YesYes
O3.2 Frequency of government and donor consultations on trade-related matters11
O3.3 UN CEB Cluster activities based on DTIS Matrix priorities in EIF CountriesYesYes
O3.4 Country with joint donor initiatives in the trade area (such as need assessment; strategy formulations; programming; pooled funding; M&E; etc.)YesYes
Outcome 4: EIF Countries secure resources in support of initiatives that address DTIS Action Matrix priorities
Outcome IndicatorBaseline2013201420152016
O4.1 Country with implementation plan integrating DTIS/Action Matrix priorities and indicating financing needs to be met through ODA11
O4.2 Country where a Government budget exists for implementation of its trade strategyYesYes
O4.4 Number of projects funded by donors related to the DTIS Action Matrix17
O4.4.1 Amount of projects funded by donors related to the DTIS Action Matrix (Million USD)2.9903.789

NIA Support (T1 Phase 1 and 2)

Starting date / End date
Approved Budget
Board Approval Date
Expenditure Reported
MOU Approval Date
MOU Expiry Date

Inclusive Cross Border Capacity Development Project

Starting date / End date
Approved Budget
Board Approval Date
Expenditure Reported
MOU Approval Date
MOU Expiry Date
Posted: 31/10/2016

Rwanda is one of the strong African trailblazers making impressive progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government has taken on an inclusive holistic approach which has enabled the implementation of policy reforms with a strong development impact. Accompanying the Government's progressive vision for trade since 2004, the EIF programme has also supported Rwanda's efforts to achieve its development goals in support of poor rural communities, in particular for women.


With firm political commitment to the process of economic recovery and national rebuilding from the effects of the 1994 Genocide, Rwanda has focused on three broad development goals in its well‑articulated Vision 2020 which includes trade. In promoting this agenda, the partners, including the EIF have funded and supported far-reaching trade diagnostics, studies and policies including those supportive of women. Thanks to this, and to further support from development partners in Rwanda such as TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), cross‑border trade (CBT) (both formal and informal) has emerged as a significant priority for national economic development. In the same footing, CBT is seen as a vital component of Rwanda's trade with its regional neighbours.


In Rwanda, CBT directly benefits the poor and can be a driver for regional peace and key to regional trade integration. Informal CTB accounts for a considerable proportion of Rwanda's regional trade, with exports estimated at US$108.3 million in 2015 and imports of US$22 million. This is a very different trade balance compared to the formal sector, where Rwanda runs a trade deficit.


It is estimated that between 70-80% of cross-border traders are women, and 90% of these women traders rely on CBT as their sole source of income. Recognizing the importance of CBT as a major component of business in the country, and a particularly important avenue for poverty alleviation with a strong gender impact, Rwanda developed a National Cross‑Border Trade Strategy. This strategy seeks to align this cluster of trade with trade-related policies and other existing Government policies focusing on a market-led approach to expand CBT.


Rwanda has 53 border crossing points, 36 of which are informal. The EIF is working with other partners in-country, such as TMEA, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and others to implement this strategy which seeks to establish trade markets around border areas to help facilitate CBT. To initiate this component, and in conjunction with resources from the Government, the EIF has funded feasibility studies for CBT market infrastructure, which were completed with detailed designs for six districts bordering three other EIF Countries (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda).


In Rwanda, poor women traders cross its borders every day and make a substantial contribution to the welfare of their families and the wellbeing of their communities. They play a key role in food security, bringing basic food products from areas where they are relatively cheap, to areas where they are in short supply. The incomes they earn from these activities are critical to their households, often making the difference, for example, in whether children go to school or not.


Challenges however, remain, particularly with respect to harassment at the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other challenges include gender insensitive infrastructure when crossing the border, limited access to finance, lack of business skills and access to proper infrastructure facilities like warehouses to store products which makes it difficult to trade in perishable goods like vegetables. This often requires women traders to carry heavy sacks of traded products on their backs yet they sometimes walk long distances to buy goods at wholesale prices.


Building on this groundwork, the EIF is currently financing a project to improve the cross‑border business environment as envisioned in the Strategy, by addressing institutional mechanisms, trade‑related capacities and the strategic trade support infrastructure. The project has the overall objective of improving the livelihoods and the earning potential of those engaged in CBT in Rwanda, with a strong gender and poverty focus.


A core component of the EIF project is the establishment of two CBT markets. These market centers are particularly important for women traders, providing a safe trading space to conduct business, saving precious time as trading becomes more efficient, and reducing the frequency of carrying heavy bags of goods for long distances as goods can be stored on site. Additionally, this would offer the traders goods protection from the rain and provide cold room storage facilities encouraging trade in perishable goods which would reduce the possibility of seasonal trading. CBT markets furthermore provide an access point for services like insurance coverage, forex bureaux and banks, which facilitates business transactions. Other partners, including TMEA and the World Bank Group are scaling up the CBT market initiative with the construction of new CBT markets at other critical border points. The World Bank Great Lakes project will also invest in gender-sensitive infrastructure and a gender-informed results framework.


Beyond the physical infrastructure, the Government has also taken the lead in improving border management as well as efforts in upgrading Information and Communications Technology at the borders through regional and bilateral initiatives with neighbouring countries. Collaborative mechanisms through the EAC, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries - CEPGL’s "Joint Action Committee for Women in Informal Cross Border Trade in the Great Lakes Region" have helped to improve conditions and simplify procedures for CBT.


To support the national cross‑border strategy, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and East African Affairs (MINEACOM) in colloboration with the Women Council, Rwanda Cooperative Authority, Pro‑femme Twese Hamwe and the Private Sector Federation have prioritized capacity building in cooperative management, entrepreneurship, border procedures and financial management. This builds on a broader Government encouraging cross‑border traders' cooperatives to organize themselves into strong institutions to be able to carry forward this agenda to future generations. Through operating in cooperatives, the women cross‑border traders are in a stronger position to be able to secure loans to expand their activities and businesses. The EIF support is generated in a coordinated manner with that of other partners including amongst others FAO, TMEA and the World Bank. The EIF project's contribution to date has included the training of 720 Cooperative members (including 495 women) from across 9 different districts.


Working with the Government and interested partners, the EIF support has helped in triggering additional investments by other Development Partners that are now providing support to reduce the costs faced by traders. For example, the World Bank has committed US$26 million, and TMEA has committed US$6.7 million in the current phase. UN Women, FAO and the New Partnership for Africa's Development have also made commitments, while other partners, such as the COMESA, the African Development Bank and the European Union are exploring how they could support this key area.


To both help coordinate CBT interventions, as well as the ongoing investments from development partners, MINEACOM have established a specific Cross‑Border Trade Coordination Unit with support from the EIF project and TMEA. The Unit coordinates and implements the National Cross‑Border Trade Strategy ensuring the mainstreaming of CBT into national programmes. It provides technical expertise, including the design of management models for the CBT Markets. For sustainability, the CBT Unit has been institutionalized and integrated into the Trade and Investment Development Division of MINEACOM to ensure the CBT projects' continuity beyond the projects' end phase.


Rwanda is one of the forerunners in Africa in making trade easier for cross-border traders, leading to long‑term positive change for border communities. As a cross‑border trailblazer, Rwanda is reinforcing its frontiers and sending a strong message to the next generations that borders are not meant to restrict traders, particularly women, but to help facilitate their business transactions which make a major economic contribution to the nation.


"If the market would be built… We will be happy to do business at that place and it is near the border. It will reduce the many journeys to the neighbouring country and we can buy and sell goods on site." Nyiransengimana Bora, Secretary-General of UNAMA UKORE Cooperative/Rubavu

Posted: 29/09/2016

Geneva, 28 September 2016


A strong all-female panel engaged in lively discussions on how to enhance women's economic empowerment through trade and how to bring women's work from the margins to the mainstream in an event organized by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) at the WTO Public Forum.


Opening the session and setting the stage for the discussions, Mr Ratnakar Adhikari, the Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF, highlighted some of the many challenges that women face while trading and elaborated on the meaning of women's empowerment as reflected in the recently published Report of the UN Secretary-General's High‑Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment entitled "Leave No One behind: A call to action for gender equality and women's economic empowerment".


"Expanding women's economic opportunities is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For far too long, women have not been recognized as major economic actors," Mr Adhikari said, adding that "in most of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), they have been excluded from taking advantage of the vast economic opportunities, of seizing the chance to support themselves through work enterprises and from shaping and controlling their own future and having their own voice."


Taking over the session, the moderator, H.E. Mrs Yvette Stevens, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Geneva, also highlighted the challenges that women face in the LDCs and invited the panel to tackle and address the challenges and look into ways to accelerate progress and to mobilize the global community to expand women's economic opportunities. "Today, we will see how the EIF programme – a programme dedicated to building trade‑related capacity in all of the LDCs – is aiming at expanding women's economic opportunities in the LDCs in a bid to achieve inclusive trade," she said.


H.E. Ms Aya Thiam Diallo, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Mali in Geneva, made a presentation on behalf of Ms Coulibaly Aïssata Touré, a mango exporter and manager of the Société de Valorisation des Fruits (SOVAFY) and President of the Network of Women Economic Operators (RFOE) of Mali. H.E. Ms Diallo highlighted that women in West Africa were now active in the trade and processing sectors through support received from capacity building and training, which were vital elements for enhancing women's skills. "Through the support of the EIF programme, women in Cooperatives have been equipped with skills, processing mangoes into mango jam that is now exported to Europe and the United States of America," she said while displaying a pot of mango jam. "Now it is important to ensure that the results achieved will produce long-term lasting impact and that the revenue is being sustained. In this respect, public-private partnerships foster this principle," she concluded.


Mrs SENG Takakneary, the Founder of SentosaSilk and the President of the Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs Association, spoke on behalf of the 14 women-owned businesses supported by the EIF working with weavers in rural areas, of which 86% are women, to improve their technical and marketing skills. "Because of the project, SentoSaSilk expanded the number of contracted weavers from 9 in 2012 to 20 in 2015. Two weavers entered formal contracts to deliver exclusive designs to SentoSaSilk. The company plans to have formal contracts with more weavers to ensure consistent supplies, while providing more confidence to contracted weavers."


On the other hand, Ms Kuvien Para, a Co-owner and Manager of the Dolphin View Beach business in Solomon Islands and one of the three local female tourism operators receiving EIF support, highlighted how the grant had benefitted her community. "Tourism plays a vital role in the lives of the people of the Solomon Islands. With the support of the EIF, we could make improvements to our small facility, which prompted an increase in room occupancy at the Dolphin View Beach from only two to seven per week. This helps to employ more women in the resort as well as purchase more food crops from women engaged in subsistence farming," Ms Para said, also calling on additional support to improve marketing and investment opportunities of the tourism sector.


Representing Ms Louise Kayonga, Secretary of the Women's Cooperative Twagure Amarembo, Mr Edouard Bizumuremyi from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Rwanda in Geneva, highlighted the EIF support to the national cross-border trade strategy. "In Rwanda, gender equality is woven into the national trade and development vision of the country. However, some challenges persist, notably the harassment indulged in informal cross‑border trade, the lack of warehouses and the lack of business skills," he said.


On the development partners' side, H.E. Ms Terhi Hakala, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Finland in Geneva, highlighted how gender equality made economic sense, adding that the "EIF as a global partnership is uniquely placed to empower women in the poorest countries".


H.E. Ms Elsbeth Akkerman, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Geneva, highlighted how gender equality helped to make countries more stable. Ms Susan Barton, Senior Trade Policy Adviser, Department for International Trade, United Kingdom, added that there was an incentive to empower women, since this led to growth and had been identified in different sectors of the analytical studies. However, she also noted the need for gender-disaggregated data.


On the International Partner Agencies side, Ms Arancha González, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, said, "The EIF is good, because it is focused, it is effective and it is catalytic. Our projects funded through the EIF in Benin, Lesotho and Nepal help women to overcome specific constraints." Mr Paul Brenton, Lead Economist of the World Bank, highlighted how the World Bank had incorporated the gender component in the key analytical studies that they had undertaken, for instance in Mauritania and Zambia.


Summing up the discussions, Ambassador Stevens noted how the session had demonstrated the ways in which the EIF was supporting women's economic empowerment, in enhancing women's capacity to trade and creating equal opportunities, as well as by providing a level playing field for both men and women. "We have seen that women's economic empowerment is possible if governments take the lead by implementing gender-conducive policies to promote inclusive growth and women's economic empowerment, for instance in Rwanda. And that focusing on successful sectoral examples and good practice also provides a promising path to lift women out of poverty, such as the example of Mali," she said, adding that, "from the presentations, it is evident that the business sector can lead by changing the business culture and practices, especially through the promotion and visibility of women‑owned enterprises. This has been highlighted in the Cambodian presentation."


"Platforms such as the EIF, Development Partners and International Organizations can play a critical role in supporting reforms and investments, as is the case of the eco-tourism grants provided to female tourism operators in the Solomon Islands," Ambassador Stevens said, concluding that the gender collective voice was critical, especially from women's groups to advocate, represent and hold decision-makers accountable. "Each of our voices today can be a driver of change in achieving women's economic empowerment," she said.

Focal Point

Mr. Emmanuel HATEGEKA
Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Trade and Industry
P.O. Box 73
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250 252 599 102

NIU Coordinator

Mr. Jean Louis UWITONZE
Planning, DG
, Rwanda
Tel: +250788308464

Donor Facilitator

Economic Growth Team, Team Leader & Senior PSD Advisor
Department for International Development - DFID
DFID Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +25078830558

WB Contact

Ms. Birgit HANSL
DTIS Contact
The World Bank
Blvd. de la Revolution, SORAS Building
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250 252 591 304
Country Manager
The World Bank
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250 591 301

UNDP Contact

Economic Management Unit  (SPEMU), National Economist and Head of Strategic Policy & Economic Management Unit  (SPEMU)
Rwanda, PO Box 445, Kigali
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: (250) 59-04-12
Ms. Amata S. DIABATE
Senior Economist
Avenue de l'Armée 12
Kigali, Rwanda
Tel: +250 252 590 411
Rwanda Annual Progress Report 2013
EIF LDCs Photo Competition Album
Rwanda Diagnostic Trade Integration Study Update, July 2011
Rwanda Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) 2008-2012
Rwanda Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) 2005
Rwanda Action Matrix 2005
Aide-Mémoire National Workshop
Action Plan: The Integrated Framework Process in Rwanda
Cross-border Trade: from Strategy to Action – Bringing Partners Together for Implementation
EIF Board 2016: Making sustainable impact in the LDCs, Rwanda leading the way
Rwanda hosts the 23rd session of the EIF Board and an EIF Workshop in support of cross‑border trade
Cross‑Border Trade Trailblazers: supporting gender equality in Rwanda
From the margins to the centre: Women's Economic Empowerment through Trade