20 Years Later, Rwanda Emerges From the Shadows

What African country lacking oil or diamonds experienced economic growth of 8 percent since 2010? Reduced the percentage of people living below the poverty line in the last ten years by 14 percent? Buried 1,000 miles of fiber optic cables to jump-start a 4G network to cover most of the country? Was ranked 32 out of 189 worldwide as a place that makes it easy to conduct business? Implemented a nationwide public health plan to reduce the number of HIV infections? Has a majority of women in its parliament?

The answer: Rwanda, a small land-locked country of 12 million people in East Africa whose economy is primarily dependent on agriculture and foreign aid. If trends continue, Rwanda’s leaders expect the nation to become a middle income country and a technology hub for some 135 million people in the region, according to the New York Times.

And yet, just twenty years ago this month, Rwanda was the site of one of the worst atrocities in the modern era. In 100 days, almost one million people were killed. The scars of genocide remain, literally on the bodies of young adults who survived attacks as small children, and memorialized in places like the Kigali Genocide Museum. But extraordinary progress has been made through the hard work of the Rwandan people and others around the world

Aid for Africa has supported organizations working in Rwanda since our inception. For almost a decade, Generation Rwanda has been helping children who survived the genocide build a future through education. Generation Rwanda finds talented and needy Rwandan high school graduates and supports them through college. The goal: to create the business and political leaders who will sustain Rwanda’s economic and social progress.

Aid for Africa member Akilah Institute for Women was founded in 2010 and focuses on education. The Institute teaches the skills Rwandan women need to take the jobs in the growing tourism and business communities in Rwanda. Two-year business degrees include courses Akilah develops by working closely with local businesses, ensuring job placement for its graduates.

Other Aid for Africa members are working to help improve subsistence farming and provide clean water to rural areas. The international research center ICIPE undertakes research on tropical insects with Rwandan scientists who share with farmers the best ways to improve food production with minimal use of chemicals. Aid for Africa member charity: water works in rural Rwanda to help communities gain access to clean water.

Rwanda still has far to go to reach its goal of becoming a middle-income country, and critics have identified the absence of a more open political progress as an obstacle. But there is no doubt that the transformation Rwanda has made would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. That’s worth keeping in mind when naysayers claim that Africa’s problems are too difficult to solve.

Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africas grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.

Photo credit: Aid for Africa


Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Rwanda has some very smart people! Thank goodness, they had nothing big corporations could exploit.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

There's always a second chance

Lisa D.
Lisa D3 years ago

Amazing to hear the good news with the rise of this nation.. I hope they continue to improve their way of life.. until all are safe, healthy & happy

Susan T.
Susan T3 years ago

Wow, good to read of this. We just watched Hotel Rwanda yesterday and it broke my heart how people can be so evil to each other. I am glad to see the country is doing so well!

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago

What wonderful news.

Liliana Garcia
Liliana Garcia3 years ago

Hmmm. The very best to Rwanda.
Melvyn G: My thoughts exactly.

Fred L.
Fred L3 years ago

Gotta agree with John M., part of the economic aid should stipulate birth control. The authors state that the "economy is primarily dependent on agriculture and foreign aid." The economy is dependent on foreign aid. As their population grows, is that aid going to decrease? Rwanda's leaders also expect to go from a population of 12 million to 135 million in the region. Too many humans, too little wildlife. Let the criticism begin.

John chapman
John chapman3 years ago

Good news out of Africa, is all too rare.

Edo R.
Edo R3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Jane H.
Jane H3 years ago

the key for me is that the majority of their elected officials are women!!