Coronavirus has inflicted a devastating impact on Rwanda’s economy and its entire social-economic fabric in the past four months.
The country has lost more than US$100 million since March 20, 2020, when the decided to enforce a lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister Dr. Daniel Ngamije told journalists on Monday that the country has spent about $60 million in the fight against the pandemic.
He said the funds were allocated to testing, tracing, isolating people in quarantine with the government providing meals and accommodation, treating people, and “other activities behind the whole machine to contain COVID-19.”When the virus hit the country, intervention measures were laid for the midterm phase. According to Minister Ngamije, US$73 million was budgeted as response resources for the first six months. However, four months down the line, US460 million is already gone.
In a webinar panel discussion on the “businesses and communities recovering together” on Friday last week, Trade Minister, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, “When the pandemic spread, the government faced a tough decision-making scenario; we wondered whether we should shut down the economy and save lives,” she said adding that, “But as we have seen, tough decisions were taken, but measures and policies were also put in place to help the economies that were affected get back on their feet.”
In a joint press conference this Monday, where key government institutions in the fight against the pandemic, Minister Hakuziyaremye said that the impact spread beyond expenditure on the response.
The MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) industry has lost $48 million, with US$10 million lost between March and April alone, due to the cancelation of planned events.
Rwanda generated US$56 million from MICE in 2019 and a projection for 2020 had been set at US$88 million before the pandemic hit.
The Trade Minister also said that despite exports picking up at the moment, they declined by 16% due to border closures and suspension of flights since March. Earlier between March and April, the total exports had declined by 27%.
“The assessment we have done shows that manufacturing was hit had because industries could not get raw materials,” Hakuziyaremye said.
The World Bank says Rwanda’s economy might pick up by the end of the year with a 2% bounce back, estimated at US$180 million in material terms against the GDP.
A US$200 million economic recovery fund has been allocated with 50% of it already released in the first phase that began in June.