Published on 28 May 2024

India becomes the top foreign investor in Rwanda

Indian investments crossed US$175m in 2023

India is now the most significant source of foreign investment in Rwanda, with US$175.2m worth of investments made in 2023. This is more than double the investments made by China in the East African republic.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has actively wooed Indian investments in the country. It first showcased investment opportunities in the country to the Indian firms in 2010 when a 26-member delegation headed by the Minister of Infrastructure, Vincent Karega visited four Indian cities. That was followed by yet another roadshow in 2010 led by Agriculture minister Agnes Kalibata which yielded business opportunities in agro-processing, construction, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing of textiles and garments, financial services, mining and energy.  Indian companies active in Rwanda include Bharti Airtel, a mobile telecommunications provider with approximately four million subscribers; tea producer Luxmi; and Sahasra Group, which operates an LED lighting manufacturing facility in Kigali. Indian two-wheeler brands like Bajaj and TVS dominate the local mobility market and it is now also common to find Indian-made Tata trucks and Mahindra pickups on the highways of Rwanda. The national flag-carrier RwandAir connects Kigali with the Indian commercial metropolis Mumbai and has hired several Indian pilots as it expands its fleet.

Ties between India and Rwanda has been on an upswing ever since Kigali first opened its mission in New Delhi in 1999 and joined the Commonwealth group of nations ten years later. The decision by the Government of Rwanda to switch from French to English has also made it easier for Indian investors to do business in Rwanda. The two sides have signed a range of economic cooperation agreements and the lines of credit extended by the Indian EXIM bank allows Indian firms to trade with their Rwandan counterparts with confidence.

Although bilateral trade (US$183.9) is still relatively small it is steadily growing. Indian exports to Rwanda include electrical and mechanical machinery, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, apparel, and beverages, which imports include Aluminium, Lead, Copper, Precious, Semi Precious Stones, Tea, and Coffee. Rwanda is home to at least 3000 Indian expatriates, many of whom conduct local and regional business out of Kigali. Rwanda’s only sugar refinery, its only modern textile mill as well as a soap and cosmetic factory are Indian owned.

Photo credit: PTI

President Paul Kagame has visited India thrice in private capacity and twice on official visit. In 2009 he visited India to participate in the India-Africa Business Forum. He visited New Delhi again in 2014 to participate in the India Economic Forum. This was followed by a 2017 visit to Gandhinagar where he participated in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rwanda is also a party to the International Solar Alliance, which the Indian Prime Minister champions.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB)’s Annual Report 2023, real estate was the sector that attracted the most investment at US$350.1m, followed by manufacturing at US$300.1m, and arts, entertainment and recreation at US$270.6m. Over 83% of the total investment value is concentrated in Kigali.

Rwanda’s Manufacture and Build to Recover Programme (MBRP) has helped secure more projects in the manufacturing, agro-processing, and construction sectors. Launched in 2020, the programme aims to reduce setup and operational costs for both new and existing companies. MBRP incentives include import duty and VAT exemptions on construction materials and machinery. The government has extended the MBRP to 2025 to draw more private sector investments.



DP World Kigali inaugurates its expansion phase with a commodity distribution centre’, The New Times, 24 March 2022

MTN and Airtel launch 4G networks in Rwanda, boosting connectivity and digital solutions’, TechAfrica News, 26 July 2023

Rwandan president inaugurates Chinese-invested cement factory in Southern Province’, Xinhua, 04 August 2023

Rwanda’s new AnJia cement factory to produce 1M tonnes annually’, FurtherAfrica, 07 August 2023

Rwanda-India diplomatic relations strengthened with Foreign Minister's landmark visit to India’, India News Network, 09 December 2023

Indian business executives explore investment opportunities in Rwanda’, The New Times, 13 December 2023

About Wild Urban Real Estate’, Wild-Urban International, Accessed 13 May 2024

Rwanda Development Board annual report 2023’, Rwanda Development Board, Accessed 13 May 2024

Sahasra Rwanda’, Sahasra Electronics Rwanda, Accessed 13 May 2024

India - Rwanda Relations’, High Commission of India in Kigali, Accessed 13 May 2024

MA engages stakeholders at Invest Rwanda Forum’, Manufacturing Africa, Accessed 13 May 2024

Subscribe to Newsletter