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Rwanda: Top sectors to look out for in 2021

In Rwanda, there are a couple of sectors to watch in the year that are likely to have significant activity based on recent developments, market trends among other aspects.

Collins Mwai with The New Times Rwanda

2021 is expected to be characterized by economic recovery in the aftermath of a global and national economic slowdown resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Rwanda, there are a couple of sectors to watch in the year that are likely to have significant activity based on recent developments, market trends among other aspects.


The finance sector is one to watch this year as it’s likely to be characterized by innovation, disruption and fast paced. From a service provision view, local players such as banks and telcos have been staying up at night figuring ways to drive up formal financial inclusion and banking services.

With the banked population standing at 2.6M Rwandan adults, only 36 per cent of the adult population, which has seen low uptake to services such as formal lending, financial players have been working out methodologies to grow the number.

In 2020, the players made in-lands in driving up access to financial services driven by digital platforms and mobile services. A number of banks also rolled out agency banking outlets as they reduce formal branches across the country.

In 2021, expansion by banks is likely to be on all fronts, digital, agency as well as increased incentives for clients to get on board.

The finance industry is also set to be characterized by economic recovery efforts through lending at the same time ensuring reduced vulnerable exposure.

Further development in the financial scene will be on the Kigali International Financial Centre which came on to the scene in 2020 in an attempt to place the country as a regional financial hub.

There is also increased activity among fintech firms which is expected to drive inclusion.


The local insurance is set to gain a new player this year as Equity Rwanda diversifies into the sector. Equity Rwanda has so far rolled out brokerage services and is set to Rwanda’s insurance industry has below 2 per cent penetration despite having 12 players.

Equity hopes to use their expansive branch network and agency network to increase countrywide access of insurance services.

The largest insurer, Rwanda Social Security Board is in the process of gaining full autonomy and plans on making more agile and data driven investments. This is likely to grow the asset base of the sector going forward.


In 2020 as the public was advised to reduce physical movement in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic, e-commerce popularity on the local scene increased as many used operators in the platform to make purchases.

Experts however argue that the sector was not ready for the surge in demand during 2020 but nevertheless managed to make the most of it.

Among aspects that are likely to define the sector this year is the emergence of supporting infrastructure and ecosystem such as warehousing which improve profitability for players as well as better working arrangements with producers.

Advertising/ communication

As businesses and organizations seek to recover, and drive business operations to post covid-19 levels as well as communicate adjustments in their operations and business lines, the advertising and communications sector is likely to be a hub of activity.

This is likely to be in both traditional media outlets as well as social media platforms which are fast gaining popularity as preferred advertising platforms.

Manufacturing and construction

In the coming days, the government is set to commence the implementation of the ‘Manufacture and Build to Recover Programme’, which will roll out tax incentives, for two years, to help stimulate investments in the manufacturing and the construction sectors.

The programme is designed to significantly reduce the cost of setting up industries of select products as well as existing firms who would like to expand their current operations.

The incentives are seeking to increase the production of construction materials, agro-processing, as well as hygiene and sanitation products.

Companies setting up industries or expanding operations in the above sectors will be exempted from import duty for materials and equipment bought for purposes of setting up the production plants.

In the event that the materials are bought locally, the firms will be exempted from Value Added Tax which is at 18 per cent.

This is likely to increase the number of industries in the country consequently creating jobs in the process. Over two years, there is likely to be increased production.

Hospitality and tourism

Arguably, the most adversely affected sector by the pandemic, hospitality and tourism will be one to look out for as it attempts to stay afloat amid the turbulent times. In 2020, players in the sector showed innovativeness in an attempt to remain in business. This is likely to persist in 2021 as operators attempt to save their firms, reduce losses and give confidence to clients.

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