Economic geography of Rwanda

The purpose of this research project is to provide policymakers with more detailed insights into the structure of economic activities in secondary cities across Rwanda and to fill a gap in the literature with respect to the magnitude and direction of inter-regional trade within the country. The economic development of secondary cities is a key priority for the Government of Rwanda. The policy agenda on the development of secondary cities is being led by Rwanda’s Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA), which is also the main government counterpart for this project.

Key policy outputs of the Economic Geography study will include an analysis of regional and city level trade, with the goal of identifying:

  • the prominent industries in different cities/ regions; and
  • the linkages – i.e. exports and imports – between different cities and regions. Overall, the project will offer insights into the industrial composition of secondary cities and the flow of products between different parts of the country.

The analysis will be conducted using existing datasets obtained from the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and the National Institute of Statistics (NISR), including: (i) the Rwanda Establishment Census and Enterprise survey to understand the stock of industries in cities across the country; and (ii) firm-level data from the RRA data – including Electronic Billing Machine (EBM) data and VAT annex data – to understand the flows of products and services in-and-out of secondary cities.

This study is expected to result in:

  • a dataset, combined with visualizations and tables, highlighting relevant trends and economic linkages;
  • a determination of whether cities are net importers or exporters, by sector of activity; and
  • insights on potential economic product corridors. Results will be presented to the Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) and other relevant stakeholders working on urbanisation and the development of secondary cities in Rwanda.

Outputs