ECLM Project

How Immigrants Contribute to Rwanda's Economy

A joint report by the OECD Development Centre and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), How Immigrants contribute to Rwanda's economy, demonstrates the economic contribution of these immigrants and makes recommendations regarding the enhancement of this contribution.

Internal and international migration in Rwanda increased considerably during the 20th century, mostly in the form of large in- and outflows of refugees. Little attention was paid to migrants’ economic integration until the mid-2000s, when the government revised its policy and legislative frameworks on migration to align them with its economic and development objectives: since then, the National Migration Policy has been aiming to boost economic development by attracting foreign investment and immigrant workers with valuable skills, as well as facilitating the return of the Diaspora.

Immigrants' contribution to Rwanda's economy is relatively small, but growing. Unlike in many other developing countries, immigrants in Rwanda are on average better educated and work in more productive sectors than the native-born population. Although immigration is associated with a small reduction in the employment rate of the native-born population, immigrants' contribution to the Rwandan gross domestic product is higher than their share in employment. Immigrants also contribute more in taxes than they receive in government benefits.

According to the report, the contribution of immigrants to the Rwandan economy could be further enhanced by:
• Better monitoring skill gaps, including of immigrants, in labour markets and raising awareness of immigrants' rights through information campaigns.
• Ensuring regular and comparable data collection to better understand long-term impacts of immigration on labour market, productivity and growth.
• Improving co-ordination of labour market and migration policies to strengthen implementing institutions, attract more international investment, and strengthen regional integration processes.
• Enhancing the contribution of large foreign private firms to domestic employment, by strengthening promotion agencies and encouraging skill transfers between national and international enterprises.