More good economic policies need to be brought on board

The Ministry of Finance and the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda yesterday released growth figures for the past year.

As was expected, the economy continued with its upward trend with a GDP growth of 5.9 per cent in 2016. It was not far off the set target of 6.0 per cent, but the figures are very revealing.

Despite the shortfalls in agriculture, which for decades has been the mainstay of Rwanda’s economy, it did not have much effect on the overall outlook.

The slow but sure growth of services and industries is paying off that the sectors grew an average of 7 per cent.

MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) tourism, in which the government has invested a lot of efforts and money, is one of the key players in that growth. Last year, the service sector contributed 48 per cent of GDP.

The same could be said of the drive to add value to our products. Locally manufactured goods are slowly taking over supermarket shelves and the Made-in-Rwanda campaign has found receptive ears.

But despite all these positive economic outcomes, there is need to delve further into other avenues that could bring more impact but are not fully exploited.

For example, despite the fibre optics cables snaking to all corners of the country, it has not exhausted its full potential because of prohibitive data costs.

The ICT sector is the next frontier in driving the country’s economy. Young innovators are cropping up every day and world class universities with international footprints in technology have opened shop.

But as long as access to high speed internet remains out of reach for many, it will take some time before the ICT sector makes a similar impact on the economy as the service sector has done.