Beyond genocide

Rwanda, an African Singapore?

Foreign Affairs  

Rwanda's government has launched a major "beautifying campaign" that aims to eliminate the country's traditional straw houses, even if it means some people end up losing their homes.   

Plastic bags have been banned since 2006. They are even confiscated from travellers arriving at Kigali airport.

Farming is still the main occupation for 90 per cent of Rwanda's population.

Land erosion, terraced fields needing lengthy fallow periods, an acidic red soil, small surfaces and antiquated tools are all obstacles to better farm production.

Kigali is often described by foreign media as the "African Singapore", for its attempts to become more business-friendly and a gateway to Africa.

A cybercafé at Kigali's international airport.

Coffee is Rwanda's most important export crop.

A coffee bean torrefaction machine in a tasting bar.

Subsistence farming is a thing of the past. The new agricultural policy launched in 2007 encourages monoculture over large swathes of land. However many farmers are opposed to the reform. 

An election official at a polling station in 2010. Paul Kagamé was re-elected president with 93 per cent of the vote.

A textile factory in Kigali. Industry is underdeveloped in Rwanda.

Rwanda's famed hills were unable to resist deforestation.

Some poor neighbourhoods in the centre of Kigali were demolished to make way for brand new buildings.

In the capital, some shopping centres are on par with their western counterparts.

In the country, most inhabitants do not have access to electricity or proper drinking water.

With 430 inhabitants per square kilometre, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in continental Africa.




The name Rwanda conjures up images of the terrifying 1994 genocide. But today the small east African nation is trying to put the past behind it and has become a model for economic development on the continent.

The tidy and well-maintained streets of central Kigali are not unlike those of most Western capitals. The economic boom underway is obvious to foreign visitors. Out in the country though, the reforms imposed by President Paul Kagamé cause some frustration and discontent. (Photos: Samuel Jaberg,

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