As 2017 Kicks off, I Have Got Reasons to Start Doing Business in Rwanda

The recent World Bank Group’s annual report on the ease of doing business ranked Rwanda the easiest place to do business in East and Central Africa, the 2nd in Africa, and the 56th globally.

Titled “Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All”, the report examined ten areas of the life of a business such as:

  • Starting a business: Procedures, time, cost and minimum capital to open a new business.
  • Dealing with construction permits: procedures, time and cost to build a warehouse.
  • Getting electricity: Procedures, time and cost required for a business to obtain a permanent electricity connection for a newly constructed warehouse.
  • Registering property: Procedures, time and cost to register commercial real estate.
  • Getting a credit: Strength of legal rights index, depth of credit information index.
  • Protecting investors: Indices on the extent of disclosure, extent of director liability and ease of shareholder suits.
  • Paying taxes: Number of taxes paid, hours per year spent preparing tax returns and total tax payable as share of gross profit.
  • Trading across borders: Number of documents, cost and time necessary to export and import.
  • Enforcing contracts: Procedures, time and cost to enforce a debt contract.
  • Resolving insolvency: The time, cost and recovery rate (%) under bankruptcy proceeding.

According to the Doing Business (DB) 2017,

  • Rwanda made starting a business easier by improving the online registration one-stop shop and streamlining post-registration procedures, in particular putting VAT registration online.
  • Rwanda made it easier to register property by introducing effective time limits and increasing the transparency of the land administration system.
  • Rwanda made trading across borders easier by removing the mandatory pre-shipment inspection for imported products.
  • Rwanda made enforcing contracts easier by introducing an electronic case management system for judges and lawyers.
  • The 2017 World Bank report also introduced a gender dimension that measures equality of ownership between men and women in registration, ownership and rights to business. Rwanda features all the three elements for both men and women.

Rwanda moved up 6 positions, ranking 56 compared to a ranking of 62 in the previous year, and 102 positions in ten years compared to a ranking of 158 in 2007. From Doing Business 2005 to Doing Business 2017 Rwanda implemented a total of 47 reforms across all Doing Business indicators. Rwanda is one of only 10 economies that have implemented reforms in all of the Doing Business indicators and every year since Doing Business 2006.

Rwanda in previous ‘Doing Business’ (DB) reports.

Doing Business 2016

  • Rwanda made dealing with construction permits easier by adopting a new building code and new urban planning regulations.
  • Rwanda improved its insolvency system by introducing provisions on voidable transactions and the approval of reorganization plans and by establishing additional safeguards for creditors in reorganization proceedings.
  • Rwanda made paying taxes easier for companies by introducing electronic filing and making its use compulsory.
  • Rwanda strengthened minority investor protections by introducing provisions allowing holders of 10% of a company’s shares to call for an extraordinary meeting of shareholders, requiring holders of special classes of shares to vote on decisions affecting their shares, requiring board members to disclose information about their directorships and primary employment and requiring that audit reports for listed companies be published in a newspaper.
  • Rwanda made starting a business easier by eliminating the need for new companies to open a bank account in order to register for VAT.
  • In Rwanda the credit bureau started to provide credit scores to banks and other financial institutions while the credit registry expanded borrower coverage, strengthening the credit reporting system.

Doing Business 2015

  • In Rwanda the electricity company made getting electricity less costly by eliminating several fees.
  • Rwanda made dealing with construction permits easier by eliminating the fee for obtaining a freehold title and by streamlining the process for obtaining an occupancy permit.
  • Rwanda improved access to credit by establishing clear priority rules outside bankruptcy for secured creditors and establishing clear grounds for relief from a stay of enforcement actions by secured creditors during reorganization procedures.

Doing Business 2014

  • Rwanda made dealing with construction permits easier and less costly by reducing the building permit fees, implementing an electronic platform for building permit applications and streamlining procedures.
  • Rwanda made resolving insolvency easier through a new law clarifying the standards for beginning insolvency proceedings; preventing the separation of the debtor’s assets during reorganization proceedings; setting clear time limits for the submission of a reorganization plan; and implementing an automatic stay of creditors’ enforcement actions.
  • Rwanda made paying taxes easier and less costly for companies by rolling out its electronic filing system to the majority of businesses and by reducing the property tax rate and business trading license fee.
  • Rwanda strengthened investor protections through a new law allowing plaintiffs to cross-examine defendants and witnesses with prior approval of the questions by the court.
  • Rwanda made transferring property easier by eliminating the requirement to obtain a tax clearance certificate and by implementing the web-based Land Administration Information System for processing land transactions.
  • Rwanda made starting a business easier by reducing the time required to obtain a registration certificate.
  • Rwanda made trading across borders easier by introducing an electronic single-window system at the border.
  • Rwanda strengthened its secured transactions system by providing more flexibility on the types of debts and obligations that can be secured through a collateral agreement.

Doing Business 2013

  • Rwanda made enforcing contracts easier by implementing an electronic filing system for initial complaints.
  • Rwanda made getting electricity easier by reducing the cost of obtaining a new connection.

Doing Business 2012

  • Rwanda reduced the frequency of value added tax filings by companies from monthly to quarterly.
  • In Rwanda the private credit bureau started to collect and distribute information from utility companies and also started to distribute more than 2 years of historical information, improving the credit information system.
  • Rwanda made starting a business easier by reducing the business registration fees.

Doing Business 2011

  • Rwanda made dealing with construction permits easier by passing new building regulations at the end of April 2010 and implementing new time limits for the issuance of various permits.
  • Rwanda enhanced access to credit by allowing borrowers the right to inspect their own credit report and mandating that loans of all sizes be reported to the central bank’s public credit registry.
  • Rwanda reduced the number of trade documents required and enhanced its joint border management procedures with Uganda and other neighbors, leading to an improvement in the trade logistics environment.


World Bank. 2017. Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All. Washington, DC: World Bank. DOI: 10.1596/978-1-4648-0948-4. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO.

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