King Paul Is Facing Serious Economic Challenges According To The World Bank, IMF and His Own Officials

David Himbara, Ph.D.

In its Country Report No. 16/24 dated January 2016, the IMF offers some bad economic news for Rwanda. The bad news are mainly centered on three things:

  • Imports continue to grow;
  • Exports are shrinking;
  • Kagame’s prestigious projects are worsening the situation;

Here is what the IMF actually states with regards to King Paul’s economy in January 2016:

“Due to imports growing faster than exports both trade and current account deficits have increased gradually, exacerbated by a trend from external grants to loans. Recent trends in mining contributed to weak exports in 2015 and should continue to do so in 2016… Monetary and exchange rate policies should help contain private import demand, but the purchases and leases of aircraft by RwandAir and imports for the Kigali Convention Center (KCC) will lead to a temporary spike in imports in 2016. Financing for government imports will be provided by donors’ agreement to accelerate 2017 budget support into the second half of 2016, and nonconcessional loans for RwandAir and KCC.”

In their letter of the IMF Managing Director Christine Largarde dated December 17, 2015, Rwanda’s Finance Minister Claver Gatete, and Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa confirmed this grim reality. According to the two, “an unanticipated external shock to Rwanda’s main commodity export has begun to unfold this year. A sharp drop in mineral prices and in global demand for those products has resulted in an unexpected significant loss of export receipts and international reserves of the banking system.”

Meanwhile, in its current economic update on Rwanda, the World Bank states the following: “Going forward, the private sector, which is still largely informal, will have to play a bigger role in ensuring economic growth. Poor infrastructure and lack of access to electricity are some of the major constraints to private investment. In addition, reducing the country dependency on foreign aid (30% to 40% of the budget) through domestic resource mobilization is critical.”

In its operational plan for 2011–2016, UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has an even gloomier picture. In its own words, despite economic growth rates, “huge challenges remain. 63% of the population live on less than $1.25 a day…. Poverty is largely rural and is geographically concentrated and, as a result of population growth, the number of poor people has reduced only marginally. Inequality is reducing, but it is still high and it is constraining sustainable growth and poverty reduction…Given low levels of international investment and a less-than-vibrant private sector it is not clear how much wealth growth will continue to deliver to a fast growing and largely unskilled population.”

The year 2016 should be interesting for King Paul. Let us watch the tragic drama.

Dr David Himbara

About the author:

David Himbara is an educator, political economist, and author based in Toronto, Canada. He teaches and works in the field of development and competitiveness.