Virungabergen på gränsen mellan Rwanda och DR Kongo.

Photo: Johan Bergqvist


Our work in Rwanda

Updated: 2 September 2014

Rwanda is going through rapid development and high economic growth. Swedish aid contributes to ensuring that development takes place in an environmentally sustainable way, and that the increased resources get to benefit the poorest. Sweden also supports the Rwandan people movements to increase citizens' political influence and help them to demand accountability from politicians and other decision makers.

Sweden’s development aid to Rwanda goes through various channels. Support for major reform programmes are complemented by direct cooperation with the civil society through non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and by cooperation between national universities in Rwanda and Sweden. In accordance with Sweden’s cooperation strategy for Rwanda, the aid is focused on four areas: democracy and human rights, economic development for the poorest, natural resources management and research cooperation.

Democracy and human rights

The democratic culture in Rwanda is weak. The country lacks an organized political opposition and the governing Rwanda Patriotic Front party has a strong grip on power. Politics is characterized by divisions of power and consensus decisions. Freedom of the press is limited and the desire not to open the wounds from the genocide is given as an excuse to justify censorship.

Sweden widely supports democracy and increased respect for human rights in Rwanda. Sweden is one of the major donors to civil society organisations working to improve citizens' political influence and help them to demand accountability from politicians and other decision-makers. Another important contribution has focused on public financial management within public administration. Furthermore, Sweden will support Rwanda’s planned media reforms, aimed at increasing the freedom of speech in the country.

The post-genocide reconciliation work remains an important part of the general debate in Rwanda. Sweden supports several organisations that are working to create conditions for a peaceful coexistence in a society where perpetrators and victims live side by side. There is a need for continued dialogue and objective information about what happened, for affected people to move on. The Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, an organisation that Sida supports, is working to identify risks of renewed conflicts and encourage discussions of these risks. Families and groups from different sides of the conflict meet to discuss taboo subjects and build relationships for the future. Sweden also supports peace organisations working with education about the genocide's history.

Economic development

Rwanda is experiencing major economic reforms. The current regime has identified economic development as the most important factor in the fight against poverty. Modernizing the agricultural sector will pave the way for Rwanda’s new economy together with investments in IT, the service sector and tourism.

The Swedish support is directed towards the poorest people in the society, as an extended social security allowance, channelled through and co-financed by Rwandese authorities. The programme offers grants, microcredits and paid community service for the poorest.

Natural resources

Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country, a fact that adds to the depletion of the country’s natural resources that constitute the livelihood for most of the population. Sweden supports the Rwandese authorities in their efforts to develop the management of natural resources. The major initiative in this area is the support to Africa’s most extensive land reform, where state-owned land is being privatized.

The Rwandan equivalent of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency also receives support to work with environmental planning and climate change adaptation.

Research and Universities

Sweden works with the long-term goal of supporting the development of Rwanda's research environment at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), which will shortly be merged with six other state universities. In addition to creating conditions for better quality in university education, domestic research is important to provide a basis for evidence-based development policy. The objective is for Rwanda to be able to conduct its own research of international standard.

Each country has its own unique premises for development and economic growth thus it is central that the cooperation partner is able to generate and maintain expertise and knowledge in key areas.

Example of Sida's support through bilateral cooperation

  • master- and PhD education in cooperation with Swedish and international partners
  • administrative reforms of the National University in Rwanda.
  • investments in infrastructure for example ICT, libraries and laboratories

Page owner: Department for Africa

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