In Rwanda, where agriculture drives the economy, a cow is a symbol of wealth. To help the rural poor, the government has for more than a decade been giving select rural families one cow each, but the animal is not a simple gift – caring for a cow is difficult and expensive.
Despite plenty of arable land and potential labor, Rwanda imports more food than it exports. The government has introduced a program to get farmers to use hybrid maize seeds, but some farmers are pushing back against the strictures of the program.
Tourism accounted for 11 percent of Rwanda’s GDP in 2016, but many Rwandans continue to see tourism as reserved for foreigners. A government program, which aims to boost domestic tourism by offering Rwandans and East Africans discounted admission to tourist sites, encourages citizens to explore the internationally renowned attractions in their own country — and it seems to be working.
Following an outbreak of bird flu, many African nations have instituted bans on poultry products from neighboring countries. For months, poultry breeders and merchants have been losing revenue. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Nigeria have all had confirmed but limited outbreaks of the disease.
Rwandan children of all ages are left alone each day near the border crossing with Democratic Republic of Congo as their mothers peddle food and other goods there. The women say they have no other way to earn money, even though their work forces their children to fend for themselves during the day.
This article refers to a March 26th speech by Paul Kagame. The speech has been intentionally paraphrased, rather than quoted, to comply with Rwandan law that forbids the president's words to be used out of context.
A 1,150 percent tax increase on used clothing and shoes (known as “caguwa”), along with a total ban on the widespread trade that will take effect in 2019, are intended to promote local manufacturing and self-reliance. Those involved in secondhand sales say these actions will ruin their livelihoods, though the government promises solutions.
A 30-year-old entrepreneur has created a successful business in her home, with a small number of employees, and she hopes to expand. Local clothing makers are encouraged to increase production, since imported secondhand clothes will soon be banned.