Rwanda Country Report
Rwanda's regulatory framework is generally liberal and corruption risks are low. However, the political environment is increasingly repressive. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) continues to dominate the political landscape, with parties genuinely opposed to the government routinely denied the freedom to operate. President Paul Kagame was re-elected for third term in August 2017 with 98.8% of the vote, following a December 2015 constitutional referendum which cleared the way for him potentially to remain in office until 2034. The United States was “disturbed by [voting] irregularities", but foreign donors are unlikely to reduce their financial assistance to the Rwandan government sufficiently to threaten government stability. Reduced global commodity prices, particularly ofagricultural products and minerals, will weigh negatively on external balances and pressure the overall balance of payments.
Rwanda is working to attract foreign direct investment by improving, for example, the ICT sector and creating a more conducive business environment, including through targeted tax holidays and reduced corporate tax rates. Although corruption exists, Rwanda is among the least corrupt countries in sub-Saharan Africa, in both the public and private sectors. Infrastructural challenges in landlocked Rwanda, particularly poor roads outside of population centres, present an impediment to investment. However, the government is trying to overcome such challenges, including through its membership of the regional East African Community (EAC) bloc.
Since the FDLR operates in exile in neighbouring DRC, insurgency within Rwanda's borders is largely absent and is unlikely to extend beyond brief and infrequent cross-border raids targeting security forces, which often fail to even inflict casualties. The notable decrease in grenade attacks since 2013 is likely attributable to a more proactive security forces approach. The Rwandan government has tended to blame the FDLR or disgruntled former army and/or government members for previous attacks, and further grenade attacks will likely be rare, but are most probable in peripheral urban areas (with lower security) in Kigali and Rwanda's northwest, and along the Burundi border.
The efficacy and vigilance of Rwandan security and intelligence services means that civil war in Rwanda is unlikely. This is despite growing opposition in the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (Front Patriotique Rwandais: RPF) and among the public to President Paul Kagame continuing in office, which constitutional changes allow him to do until 2034. Risks of Rwandan incursions into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have also been moderated by ongoing Congolese-Rwandan security cooperation, including DRC military operations against the Rwandan FDLR militant group, which is based in eastern DRC but regarded by Rwanda as a threat to its security.
Rwanda is very unlikely to experience significant civil unrest, because vigilant security and intelligence services usually prevent any large-scale protests or demonstrations. Mass mobilisation of government opponents is unlikely, and did not occur in the aftermath of the August 2017 presidential election. Rare grenade attacks are a more probable channel for the expression of political discontent, and are most likely in peripheral areas of Kigali and other urban centres, particularly in the northwest.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over one year of age entering the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Storms and severe floods can impact the country during the rainy season, which are known to cause landslides, especially in rural areas.
Rwanda's infrastructure is vulnerable to seismic and volcanic activity. The most significant concern is Mount Nyiragongo volcano, and active volcano located within the DRC, near the Rwandan border. In January 2002, eruptions killed 47 people and destroying much of Goma (DRC). Violent eruptions may occur, and those in the region should monitor the situation.
Most recently, in August 2015, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake centered in Bukavu, eastern DRC, was felt as far as western provinces of Rwanda, though no casualties were reported.
The national road network is generally kept in good condition, especially roads from Kigali to all major towns. Despite the upkeep of the roads, driving after dark should be avoided as the roads are unlit and driving standards in the country are poor; serious collisions, often involving overtaking vehicles, are common.
Travel using 4x4 vehicles is recommended on rural and dirt roads, especially during the rainy seasons (main wet season March-June; low wet season October-November), during which some roads become impassable.
Police checkpoints are common throughout the country; vehicles and luggage may be searched. Speed limits should be respected to avoid getting fined. The national speed limit is 70 to 90 km/h (19 to 25 mi).
All drivers must have valid vehicle insurance. If responsible for an accident, a prison sentence from three to six months may be imposed.
It is advisable to avoid travel using taxi-bikes ("motos") due to the relatively high number of serious accidents. Mini bus services are somewhat safer, though they are still prone to accidents. Orange-stripped taxis are generally safe.
Rwanda has made a concerted effort to open itself to foreign investment and tourism, and as a result the country's infrastructure is undergoing significant development. A number of quality hotels have opened in Kigali as well as other tourist areas (e.g. in and around Ruhengeri for visitors wishing to see gorillas in Virunga National Park, in Nyungwe Forest National Park, and in Akagera National Park). Infrastructure remains more limited in rural and isolated areas.
The power grid is in poor condition and blackouts occur frequently, including in the capital (though most high-end hotels will have a generator). Kigali also suffers from water shortages, especially during the dry season, when water access is often cut.
Rwanda has an equatorial climate but temperatures are tempered by high elevations. Kigali, the capital, is situated at 1500 m above sea level. There are two rainy seasons: from February to April and again from November to January. Heavy rains are common during these two periods. During the dry season, temperatures are pleasant.
There are no emergency services in Rwanda.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz