Rwanda’s legacy of genocide continues to loom large over the country’s political landscape. On the economic front, the main challenge after a decade of robust macroeconomic performance is to find new sources of sustainable growth, as the post-conflict recovery phase draws to a close. Rwanda’s first PRSP ( Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper) made good progress on the social sectors, but less so on the productive side. Remaining one of the poorest and the most densely populated countries in Africa, the Rwandese economy is essentially based on agriculture. The EC country strategy (9th European Development Fund) has considered poverty reduction as a main priority by providing rural development support as well as macro-economic support.
For the period 2008–13, the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) totals 290M€. The general support to the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) with a special focus on social services such as education, health and water represents 60% of the budget (175M€). Rwanda fulfils the eligibility criteria for budget support and an MDG Contract was signed in March 2009.
The two priority areas are rural development (40M€) and infrastructure (50M€). Lower-priority areas such as governance, trade support and technical cooperation facility are also included in the programme (25M€). To cover unexpected needs, 4.4M€ was included under envelope B.
In addition to the EDPRS set up in 2007, the EC country strategy plans to support, i) rural development through rural economic development/transformation in the context of sustainable development and decentralisation, ii) infrastructure for regional interconnectivity by reducing the transport cost and consolidating the transport sector. An average of 40M€ has been disbursed every year since 2007.
Rwanda is one of the few ACP countries to be "on-track" to achieving most of the MDGs. Whilst substantial progress has been made in all sectors, more progress in some MDGs such as child mortality, maternal health and eradication of extreme poverty is needed.
Good governance and electoral cycle
Governance issues in the post-genocide context deserve special attention. Unity and reconciliation activities reached a high point following the nationwide roll-out of the Gacaca process and the ICTR activities, which should both come to an end in 2010. In the context of perpetrators of genocide returning to their villages from prison, the emphasis ison reinforcement of traditional justice and on processes of reconciliation. Consolidation of democracy is crucial, particularly when considering the 2008-11 electoral cycle.
The EC has contributed 1.5M€ towards various logistical aspects of the electoral process as well as capacity-building of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). It has also supported Rwandan civil society for the training and logistical support of national observers through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights and the NEEDS programme.
In spite of efforts on genocide-related justice, the long process of reconciliation remains a challenge. Ultimately, reconciliation will depend on equitable economic growth and poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas, and on the consolidation of democracy.
The EU-Rwanda dialogue based on Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement began in 2004. High-level discussions between EU Ambassadors and Government Ministers take place regularly on a number of issues.