Can a country “develop” without its rural population? The case of Rwanda

If you think the energy story in Rwanda is a nightmare, look at the roads! Rural feeder roads to connect people and goods to markets barely exist, and where they do, they are in a catastrophic state. Rwanda in other words is “growing” it’s economy without actively connecting rural areas where 90% of its population lives to markets. Priorities in road infrastructure illustrates the madness of Rwanda’s “development” model as I show here.


Rwanda’s road network is about 19,055 km. Of this approximately 15,055 km is classified, consisting of:

1) Paved national roads are 1,211km;

2) Unpaved national roads are 1,538km;

3) Paved district roads amount to 58km;

4) Unpaved district roads total 12,248km;

5) Unclassified roads network is estimated to be 4,000km.

From the above summary, what do you learn about Kagame’s “development model”? It is a model that traps about rural areas where most Rwandans live into economic retardation. How can paved district roads be a mere 58km and you call yourself Singapore of Africa?


The disastrous nature of Kagame presidency becomes move evident when we look at the conditions of the roads – as opposed to the length.

1) 95% of national paved roads are in perfect condition (1,211km);

2) 50% of national unpaved roads are in fair conditions;

3) Feeder roads are in a catastrophic state;


To say that Kagame development model constitutes the biggest stumbling block to the mobility of the rural population is an understatement of the century.

It is a no-brainer to figure out that rural development is primarily about small-scale farmers ability to transport to their goods to markets. And of course these transactions rely entirely on transporting both people and what they produce.

The Paul Kagame regime should hide its head in shame – assuming it is capable of such a thing. It has failed miserably to invest in rural roads. It has therefore failed to prioritise connecting rural Rwanda to the regime’s so-called economic miracle.

David Himbara