Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills. It is a landlocked country in the eastern part of Africa and one of the smallest nations in the world with one of the largest populations. There are now more than 11 million people living in Rwanda.
Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda, is also a landlocked country in East Africa country wrapped around the shores of Lake Victoria. It is bordered by Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Uganda is known as the African Great Lakes Region.
Both Rwanda and Uganda have had dramatically violent histories:
Rwanda’s history is complicated. In 1994, Rwanda experienced a Genocide that claimed nearly one million lives in one hundred days. In addition to the loss of life, the horrific events destroyed most of Rwanda’s infrastructure. Under the direction of President Kagame, the years since the Genocide have been an extraordinary model of national development aimed at recovering from the ethnic violence that tore the country apart pitting neighbors upon neighbors and family against family.
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962. Since then the country has undergone spells of political violence that have resulted in loss of lives and unconstitutional power changes. After a military coup in1971 General Idi Amin seized control of the country. Amin ruled Uganda as dictator with the support of the military for the next eight years during which time there were mass killings to maintain his rule. An estimated 80,000-500,000 Ugandans lost their lives during his regime. In 1976, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Air France flight and forced it to land at Entebbe airport. One hundred of the 250 passengers originally on board were held hostage until an Israeli commando raid rescued them ten days later. Amin's reign was ended after the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979.
Museveni has been president since his forces toppled the previous regime in 1986. In the mid-to-late 1990s, Museveni was lauded by western countries as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has been marred, however, by his occupation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the Second Congo War, resulting in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998.
The country is largely a subsistence-based economy dependent upon the agricultural sector which employs 90% of the population. Coffee and tea being the two primary exports.
Today, Rwanda is focused on developing the nation into a middle-income, service-based economy by the year 2020.
Most Ugandans still live on the land and more of Uganda’s wealth comes from agriculture (42%) than from either industry (38%) or services (20%). Many view Uganda as a great success story. Since 1987, there has been a sustained period of economic growth and a growing middle class. New businesses have opened and suburbs have been created for the new middle class who now enjoy better infrastructure and services. Uganda has one of the youngest and most rapidly growing populations in the world.
Preparing this next generation for productive jobs is a social and political priority for the government. About 53% of Uganda’s population is younger than 15, well above Sub-Saharan Africa’s average of 43.2%. About 500,000 people are expected to enter the labor market every year.
Gross Domestic Product
The GDP is the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country's borders calculated on an annual basis.
Rwanda’s GDP in 2015 was 8.10 billion US dollars. The country has shown extraordinary growth, averaging 7.8% GDP growth between 2005 and 2010.
Uganda’s GDP (2017, estimate) is USD 27.6 billion. The economy of Uganda advanced 3.7% year-on-year in the first three months of 2017, compared to an upwardly revised 1.8% expansion in the previous period. It is the strongest growth rate since the first quarter of 2016, mainly due to a recovery in agriculture, forestry and fishing.
Economic Development and Poverty Reduction
Rwanda’s second economic development and poverty reduction strategy, EDPRS2 from 2013, puts the emphasis on creating jobs through entrepreneurship and business development.
Uganda has put in place a comprehensive framework for poverty reduction known as the poverty eradication action plan (PEAP). A subcomponent of the PEAP, the plan for the modernization of agriculture (PMA), is designed to address the goal of reducing poverty in rural areas.
National Employment Program (NEP)
Rwanda’s national employment program from 2014 aims to create 200,000 off-farm jobs every year during a 5-year period. The program focuses on 4 main pillars: skills development, entrepreneurship and business development, labor market intervention, and coordination and monitoring & evaluation.
The National Employment Policy for Uganda (2011) lists youth employment as a policy priority action area. Employment creation is central to the national socio-economic development process. “With Uganda’s labor force growing above four percent per annum, Uganda can add 10 million potential workers into the labor market by 2020, adding to the challenge of creating goods jobs and achieving equitable growth,” says Rachel Sebudde, the World Bank’s Senior Economist for Uganda, and the lead author of the report. “The challenge for Ugandan policy makers will be to manage the labor force's transition from a predominant involvement in low productivity subsistence agriculture to increased involvement in higher productivity manufacturing and services sector.”
The Ease of doing business index from 2015 by the World Bank Group, ranks Rwanda as the second easiest country in sub-Saharan Africa to start a business. Globally, Rwanda is ranked 62. The World Bank ranks Rwanda as one of the world’s leading pro-business reformers.
Rwanda’s government and the private sector are working together to build a strong partnership to further transform the country. Today Rwanda is clean, safe and one of the least corrupt and fastest growing countries in the world. One of the biggest challenges in meeting the country’s development goals is creating an educated population as education is critical in reducing the poverty that exists.
Uganda has been experiencing consistent economic growth. In fiscal year 2015-16, Uganda recorded gross domestic product growth of 4.6 percent in real terms. The country has largely untapped reserves of both crude oil and natural gas. While agriculture accounted for 56% of the economy in 1986, with coffee as its main export, it has now been surpassed by the services sector, which accounted for 52 % of GDP in 2007.
Uganda is one of the poorest nations in the world. Despite making enormous progress in reducing the countrywide poverty from 56% of the population in 1992 to 24.5% in 2009, poverty remains deeply rooted in the country's rural areas, which are home to 84% of the population. As agriculture is the core of the Ugandan economy and the primary source of employment, creating better jobs on the farm and promoting agribusiness are critical to improving productivity and livelihoods in the country.
IDEA4Africa is working with other like-minded organizations and institutions to increase people’s ability to be self-reliant with the goal of helping them launch innovative businesses that solve community needs, creating employment opportunities for themselves and for others as well.