The year is 2050, Rwanda now has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $250 billion and has grown an average of 11 per cent for the past 30 years with a GDP per capita of $11,000 up from the current $825.
Rwanda’s population stands at 21.7 million people, this population is dominated by young people who account for up to 65 per cent of the total population.
The services sector is now the overwhelming driver for economic growth and is dominated by financial services and the tourism. We are continental leaders in both.
Tourists visiting Rwanda, as at the end of 2049, stood at 12 million. A modest growth from the current 1.8 million per year but spending per day per tourist is over $1,200 mainly because Rwanda is now a niche destination targeting luxury travelers and competing with destinations such as St. Tropez, British Virgin Islands and Bali.
We have learnt the challenges that come from overtourism from Amsterdam and Venice and have carefully and skillfully avoided this.
In the financial sector, BPR part of Atlas Mara is now the third largest bank on the continent with total assets of over $50 billion.
This phenomenal growth has come from the bank’s unrivalled skills and value propositions in the SME portfolio.
With representative offices in Dubai, London, New York and Shanghai, BPR is truly a global bank.
Broadly, Rwanda’s financial sector is now an example in efficiency, innovation and competiveness.
Kigali, is now a growing financial services center and plays host to leading global banks the likes of JP Morgan Chase, HSBC and China’s ICBC.
Niche financial services such as wealth management, custodial services and prime brokerage services are thriving side by side with brick and mortar retail services.
The Rwanda Stock Exchange, sadly no longer exists. In its place is an East African Stock Exchange based in Kigali.
Owning stocks from Safaricom to RwandAir is now a call or a click away.
Sophisticated instruments such as mortgage backed securities, collateralized mortgage obligations and other derivatives are being traded freely and generating phenomenal returns alongside traditional instruments such as equity and fixed income.
The returns are phenomenal mainly because the underlying assets trading at the EASE are performing well.
Rwandan youth are thriving as stock brokers, day traders, market makers, market analysts and other functions buoyed by an optimal performing stock exchange.
Besides traditional financial institutions, investors globally are now attracted to an ecosystem of funds including hedge funds, mutual funds and even private equity funds.
The number of young Rwandan billionaires is growing yearly as a result.
The famous Keza Nyiramajambere is one of them. Now, thousands of young and skilled Rwandans are making a living with only a laptop, an internet connection and trading skills.
Other financial sector assets such as micro finance institutions and SACCO’s continue to play a key role in socially responsible lending but also in mobilizing cheap deposits.
They are now at the frontline of providing cheap loans and other household financial products.
High returns are not their priority but rather providing their clients with products that allow and quicken social mobility.
While all of the above are just the dreams of an overly optimistic banker, the likelihood of this coming to pass is real.
In fact, there’s no reason why as a country but also specifically as a sector we shouldn’t exceed these.
However, many things must happen but one above all.
We need to always remain alive to the intricacies and complexities of the ecosystem.
Questions such as are our institutions of learning preparing our young for the world to come by imparting not only a proactive education buy key value systems? Are those responsible for formulating laws and rules being forward looking rather than reactive? Are regulators such as Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and the National Bank of Rwanda among others coming up with initiatives to regulate while also stimulating Rwanda’s business environment in readiness for a grand future?
Is the private sector, including financial institutions, bold enough to take on the challenges but also the opportunities of the future? As we continue the journey of EAC integration but also the implementation of AfCFTA, what lessons are we learning from the seemingly imploding EU? Are we doing enough to strengthen our commercial law jurisprudence while also creating strong avenues for commercial arbitration?
These questions, and many more, that form the necessary dependencies needed for us to reach our 2050 ambitions must always remain at the forefront of our thinking. We must question, review and assess all through this exciting journey. Key paradigm shifts will be the key to unlock a future heavy with excitement and value.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.