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African Affairs: Countries and Other Areas
The good performance in the export of minerals has helped offset the decline in the value of coffee, which fell by 23.4% because of fears of oversupply on the international market after some Latin American producers overshot their production estimates. Tea exports also declined last year because of bad weather conditions in Rwanda.
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The most commonly imported goods are items like raw materials for the food and chemical industries, as well as fertilisers and construction goods. Formal imports increased by 2.2% in value on 2012 to $2,247.4m. This modest rise was put down to the slowing down in economic activities related to the aid suspensions in 2012.
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Diversity is the key
Minerals such as cassiterite, coltan and wolfram are a growing part of Rwanda’s economy, partly due to ongoing reforms and substantial investments in the sector – Rwanda invested $46.8m in the mineral sector in 2012 alone – but also due to high prices on the international market. The total value of exported minerals in 2013 was $225.7m, up from $136.1m in 2012 – an increase of 65.9%. This was largely dominated by coltan, which increased from 1,145 tons in 2012 to 2,466 tons in 2013.
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Refuge for rare species
Tourism is a growing and important part of the Rwandan economy. The Virunga mountains which straddle Rwanda, DRC and Uganda are the only place in the world where one can see the rare mountain gorillas, of which there are only around 950 left in the world. Rwanda has strategically marketed itself as the best place to see these rare creatures and charges $750 per person for an hour in their presence.
UNODC Regional Office in Eastern Africa
But Rwanda’s reliance on a few primary export goods remains a major challenge for the country and leaves it open to external shocks, such as the aid suspensions of 2012.