Data insights in achieving retail growth in Rwanda

Data insights in achieving retail growth in Rwanda

14 November, 2022    

The retail and trade (merchant) sector is one of the priority sectors for the Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme. The sector and its upstream activities generate significant economic value and provide income for many Rwandans. According to the 2020 Establishment Census, 57.4% of all 232,283 enterprises in Rwanda operated in wholesale and retail services and of these enterprises, 94% were informal in nature.  

 For its Vision 2050, the Rwandan government has set four priorities: 

  • Promoting competitive value chains made in Rwanda 
  • Increasing firm-level productivity and enhancing diversification 
  • An ecosystem approach to increasing exports 
  • Streamlining regulation and access to information 

 Retail digital payments as a driver of digitalisation  

One of the ways to foster development and achieve these goals is through digitalisation – and the uptake of retail digital payments is an important part of the picture. Various elements are needed to digitalise the retail sector and build an effective and inclusive market. They include:  

  • Reliable access to basic infrastructure, such as digital devices and electricity.
  • Building on familiar payment channels such as USSD, which is the ability to conveniently exchange between cash and digital.
  • Offering value-added services on the back of the payments channel and paying heed to consumer perceptions of prices and fees.
  • Thinking through the needs of business users to seamlessly interact between business and personal wallets as these elements help to build trust over time and lead to the creation of network effects. 

Data analysis holds great potential for effective policymaking. In the retail trade sector, it enables policymakers to form a granular understanding of merchant activities in Rwanda and to compare transaction patterns across merchant types and location to derive insights relevant for meeting the various policy targets.  

Our Retail Data4Policy framework demonstrates the linkage between data and public policy objectives for the retail merchant sector. By combining and analysing a variety of datasets already held by public entities, the Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme is unearthing powerful insights for how to tailor policy implementation towards the achievement of the payments digitalisation goal in Rwanda and, with that, to support the broader priorities for economic transformation and commercialisation.  



View the data for policy action framework Size 1327kb


Rwanda Economy Digitalisation Programme is implemented by Cenfri in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of ICT & Innovation and financial support from the Mastercard Foundation. 

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