Spotlight on Rwanda

Since the AVOI was first published in 2016, Rwanda has always ranked among the index’s top performers. This year, the country records the continent’s largest increase in score, resulting in a jump from fifth place to joint first. As one of Africa’s top four performers, Rwanda ranks alongside Benin, Seychelles, and The Gambia, all three of which obtained a perfect score in 2022 and repeat the feat in 2023. 

Rwanda has embraced a liberal visa regime for years. In 2016, the country allowed the citizens of nearly 90% of African countries to obtain a visa on arrival; the citizens of the remaining 10% of countries could enter visa-free. By 2018, Rwanda had slightly increased the number of African states for whose citizens visa-free entry was allowed. And in March 2020, Rwanda announced that it would waive visa-on-arrival fees for citizens of African Union member states visiting for 30 days or less. 

In 2023, Rwanda liberalized further by extending visa-free access to the citizens of all African Union member states. This has eased the burden of travel for the citizens of 35 African countries who had hitherto been required to obtain a visa on arrival. It has also given effect to the country’s commitment to the African Union’s Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Right of Establishment: Rwanda is one of only four countries that have signed and ratified it. 

A landlocked country nestled between Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda, Rwanda is an important destination for business and social exchanges. It is also a transit country for trade and people in a populous region. Tourism, especially nature-based tourism, is an important component of the country’s economy. Before the pandemic, tourism was Rwanda’s largest export and recorded double-digit growth each year. The sector is still lagging pre-pandemic levels, but is showing strong recovery: in the first eight months of 2022, tourism arrivals exceeded 650,000 visitors. 

Rwanda is an integral part of regional initiatives such as the EAC customs union and COMESA. It actively embraces initiatives for regional and continental integration.