Chris Skinner reveals a few things that may surprise you about Rwanda, not least its eye-opening journey from financial exclusion to cashless economy.

Another presentation that was enlightening was delivered by Jean Claude Gaga, CEO of RSwitch Ltd, the national e-payment switch of Rwanda. Jean Claude gave an overview of how Rwanda is moving towards a cashless economy, and I was particularly interested because I chair Dot Finance in Kigali each year, so it gave me a greater insight into the country of Rwanda, as well as its move towards eradicating cash.

Before visiting Rwanda, all I knew was that it was the country that suffered one of the greatest genocides in history. Having been to Rwanda, the country recognises that history – it has an amazing genocide museum that is very emotional, but also keeps the memory alive. The country doesn’t forget, but recognises that it must never happen again.

So, here’s some things that may surprise you about Rwanda. It’s the #1 African country for women, for transparency and for safety and security, as well as being highly competitive and easy to do business with.

Rwanda rankings

I felt that, when I was there, it’s an incredibly friendly place, and I can thoroughly recommend a visit if, for no other reason, that you can go and visit the gorillas in the mist.

Chris Skinner in Rwanda

Like most African countries, it’s a young population: two out of three people are under 40, and most (84%) live in rural areas working on farms.

Rwanda is a young population – two out of three people are under 40 – and most (84%) live in rural areas, working on farms.

Rwanda – levels of education distribution, and source of income distribution.

What’s interesting is that when I visit other countries such as Sudan (4% banked) or Pakistan (20% banked), Rwanda has moved ahead. Although only 26% of Rwandans have bank accounts, 65% are using some other formal financial services such as Mobile Money (MoMo) and savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs). This means that 89% of Rwandans are included in access to financial services, with only 11% excluded by the end of 2016, which is a big change in just four years from the 28% excluded in 2012.

89% of Rwandans are included in access to financial services with only 11% excluded by the end of 2016.

Rwanda: the financially included.

It’s all about mobile financial inclusion …

Bank agents vs MNO agents

Bank A/Cs vs mobile wallets

Rwanda – number of transactions

You can see the whole of Jean Claude’s presentation below, and it really is eye-opening to see the rapid move in all African countries, but particularly Rwanda, from exclusion to inclusion and from cash to cashless.

READ NEXT: The African mobile revolution (part one)

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Image by Mikhail Mishunin,

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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