Nation’s profile: Rwanda is officially known as the Republic of Rwanda. It is a land locked country located just a few degrees south of the Equator, bordering Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC; with an area covering 26.3 thousand square kilometers.

The Rwandan population coalesced first into clans (hunters and later Bantu people) and later into kingdoms. After the Kingdom of Rwanda dominated the mid-18th century and Tutsi rulers centralizing power and later enacting anti-Hutu policies, Rwanda was first colonized by Germany in 1884 and later by Belgium in 1916. In 1959 the Hutu population revolted and established an independent state in 1962 through forceful means. Civil war between Tutsi and Hutu began in 1990 leading to the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed between 500 thousand to 1.3 million Tutsi, moderate Hutu and Twa. The Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front eventually ended the genocide with a military victory (together with the controversial UN French-led Opération Turquoise).

Rwanda today has low corruption compared with neighboring countries, although human rights organizations report suppression of opposition groups, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by an ordered administrative hierarchy since pre-colonial times; there are 5 provinces delineated by borders drawn in 2006. Rwanda ranks first in the list of countries with a female majority in the national parliament.

Climate: Rwanda has got a tropical highland climate, with lower temperatures than are typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. The highest temperatures of the day are normally below 30 degrees Celsius, at night rarely below 15 degrees Celsius. There are two rainy seasons in the year; the first runs from February to June and the second from September to December.

People: The population is estimated at 11.9 million (2016 est.).

Language: Kinyarwanda, English, and French are all official languages. Kinyarwanda is the language of government, while English –formerly French- is the first foreign language taught in schools.  In 2015, Swahili was introduced as a mandatory subject in secondary schools and a law was approved to make Swahili the fourth official language of Rwanda since the beginning of 2017.

Time zone: Rwanda is located in the GMT + 2 time zones.

Working hours: Government office hours are usually 7:00 am –12:00 pm and 1:00-4:00pm, Monday to Friday. Private sector working hours are usually 8:00 am – 12:00 am and 1:00 – 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Shops are usually open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, although some shops close early on Saturday and remain closed on Sunday. Supermarkets and shopping malls are oftentimes open 7 days a week.

Economy: Rwanda displays a growing economy. The largest proportion with about 50% accounts to the service sector, followed by agriculture with about 30%. However, recent trends show that the country is trying hard to diversify more into the industrial sector (e.g. cement, soap, furniture, and textiles), the mineral sector (cassiterite, wolframite, gold and coltan) and renewable energy.

GDP: $ 8.376 billion (2016 est.).

GDP per Capita: $ 10,150 (2016 est.).

GDP growth rate: 6% (2016 est.).

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (2016): Agriculture 34.6%, Industry 15.1%, Services 50.3%

Agriculture products: Coffee, Tea, Livestock, Potatoes, Sorghum, Beans, Bananas, Pyrethrum

Industries: Food processing, Beverages, Textiles, Leather, Plastic Goods, Cigarettes, Cement

Export commodities: Tea, Coffee, Minerals (e.g. coltan, cassiterite,), Animal hides

Import commodities: Food, Machinery and equipment, Raw Sugar, Packaged Medicaments, Cement

Exports-earning: $ 621.6 million (2016 est.).

Imports-expense: $ 1.778 billion (2016 est.).

Inflation rate: 5.7% (2016 est.).

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $756.3 million (2016 est.).

Exchange rates– September 2017: The currency in Rwanda is the Rwanda Franc (RWF)

RWF per EUR - 996,89

RWF per USD - 845,50>

Business Etiquette:

Rwandan business customs are similar to those of the western world. Still, the country is a very traditional society with different customs and ceremonies presented in both the social and business spheres.  

  • Use of titles: Unless you are invited to do otherwise, always use the last name with the honorific title (Engineer, Doctor …) and address government officials (Ministers, State Ministers…) as “Honorable” or “Your Excellency” without using their name.
  • Business cards: are given without any formal ritual.
  • Greetings: A handshake is appropriate in most situations. Handshakes tend to be energetic and very often linger through the greeting process and sometimes the entire conversation which may include walking where it is common to continue shake hands. As a show of respect it is common to grasp the right forearm with your left hand when shaking hands.
  • Agenda: In most situations, Rwandans do not tend to be overly concerned with being punctual. People are expected to arrive within the first hour or two after the appointed time. Punctuality tends to be more valued in business situations, but deadlines are often not met. An agenda is only a guideline for the discussion and a springboard to other related business topics. It is considered more important to complete the meeting agreeably than to meet the scheduled ending time.
  • Few other tips: Arrive on time though you might end up waiting. When refreshments are offered during meetings try to not refuse. Dress formal. Be aware that government policy forbids the reference to the ethnicities Hutu and Tutsi, seeking for one Rwandan identity. Avoid conversation topics such as politics and personal ideology as well as critical questions about the Rwandan genocide, which in some cases is punishable by law.

Few Vocabulary




How are you doing?

Amakuru yawe?

Fine, thank you

Ni meza

What is your name?

Witwa nde?

My name is…

Banjye banyita…



Thank you








You are welcome

murakaza neza

Excuse me


Good bye

Mwirirwe (used after 11 am generally); murabeho / ngaho (goodbye, farewell)

Good morning

Bwacyeye / mwaramutse

Good night

Ijoro ryiza / muramuke

How much is it?

Mafaranga angahe?

What time is it?









Byeri / inzoga


Umushoferi / umutwara 






Uyu munsi / none / nonese


ejo hashize


ejo hazaza






ikirorero / umujyi 



Mr. Chris Wegner

Regional Coordinator Eastern Africa

+254 20 6633 106
+254 716 160 801
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