Rwandan & East African Economic Performance In 2017

By David Himbara

In 2017, Kenya launched the first railway built since independence in 1962.

Kenya continues to lead and outperform its partners in the East African Community. According to the World Bank 2017 data, Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by US$5 Billion from US$70 Billion in 2016 to US$75 Billion in 2017. Kenya’s per capita income increased from US$1,462 in 2016 to US$1,508 in 2017. This makes Kenya the only middle-income country in the East African Community. It is also worth noting that Kenya opened its US$3.2 Billion railway between the port city of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi, in 2017.

The comparative performance of the region is shown below — with Tanzania the second best performer. Tanzania increased its GDP by the same margin as Kenya by US$5 Billion. Tanzania’s per capita income increased from US$878 in 2016 to US$936 in 2017 . Evidently, with a per capita income of US$936, Tanzania is nearly reaching the middle-income status of per capita of US$1,045. The next three years should see Tanzania joining Kenya to become East Africa’s second middle-income economy.

I have not included South Sudan — its data does not appear in the 2017 World Bank’s development indicators.

Comparative East African Gross Domestic Product, 2017

  • Burundi’s GDP increased from US$3 Billion in 2016 to US$3.4 Billion in 2017 — an increase of US$477 Million.
  • Kenya’s GDP increased from US$70 Billion in 2016 to US$75 in 2017 — an increase of US$5 Billion.
  • Rwanda’s GDP increased from US$8.4 Billion in 2016 to US$9 Billion in 2017 — an increase of US$600 Million.
  • Tanzania’s GDP increased from US$47 Billion in 2016 to US$52 Billion in 2017 — an increase of US$5 Billion.
  • Uganda’s GDP increased from US$24 Billion in 2016 to US$26 Billion in 2017 — an increase of US$2 Billion.

Comparative East African Per capita income, 2017

  • Burundi’s per capita income increased from US$285 in 2016 to US$320 in 2017 — an increase of US$35.
  • Kenya’s per capita income increased from US$1462 in 2016 to US$1508 in 2017 — an increase of US$46.
  • Rwanda’s per capita income increased from US$711 in 2016 to US$748 in 2017 — an increase of US$37.
  • Tanzania’s per capita income increased from US$878 in 2016 to US$936 in 2017 — an increase of US$58.
  • Uganda’s per capita income increased from US$580 in 2016 to US$604 in 2017 — an increase of US$24.

The case of Rwanda and its vision 2020

As is shown, Rwanda’s per capita income increased from US$711 in 2016 to US$748 in 2017 . This is further indication that President Paul Kagame’s Vision 2020 will remain a mirage. The purpose of Vision 2020 was to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country with a per capita income of US$1,240 by 2020. With three years left, Kagame would have to increase per capita from US$748 to US$1,240 — a difference of US$492. Based on the past performance, this is most unlikely to happen. In the past three years, Rwanda increased its per capita income from US$711 to US$748 — an increase of US$37.

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