The First Public Private Dialogue on E-commerce in Rwanda addresses Key challenges in the Sector

January 16, 2020

As part of the implementation of the Enhancing Trade Competitiveness Project through E-commerce in Rwanda, the Ministry of Trade and Industry through E-Commerce Project organized the First Public Private Dialogue on E-commerce in Rwanda. The forum brought together key players from the public sector as well as many start up companies across the private sector.

In his opening remarks, the SPIU Coordinator, Richard NIWENSHUTI reiterated the priority given to E-commerce policy and development by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and urged participants to discuss and have common understanding on the current status of e-commerce in Rwanda in general and particularly the challenges of e-payment.

Current Market Trends

Of Rwanda’s 12.2 million estimated population, approximately 3.8 million have access to the internet, most commonly via mobile phone.  Internet access and speed are improving, driven by the rollout of a national 4G LTE network and fibre optic lines.  The government is committed to developing e-commerce and has put in place measures to protect users of online services by adopting global standards like the proprietary information security standard, which is the payment card industry data security standard. 

The Government of Rwanda provides services to both citizens and businesses through e-government portals, such as Irembo, including as the preferred method to taxes and fees.  Many citizens and businesses still use traditional ways of physical interactions, and many transactions are in cash. 

At present, the use of e-commerce for “Business to Client” remains limited for the most part to the airline, hospitality, banking, food delivery, and courier services sectors.  E-commerce is relatively new in Rwanda, but the sector is growing quickly as local tech start-ups and international payers have entered Rwanda’s market in the past few years, including Jumia, an online food ordering platform.

Cross-Border e-commerce

China and United Arab Emirates are the main e-commerce commercial partners and online ordering typically goes through Alibaba and Ali Express.  Most Rwandan importers use these two long-term suppliers and orders are transmitted by email and phone.  Payments are transmitted through Western Union, MoneyGram, and HubShil. 

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