Rwanda Special Economic Zones

Rwanda Special Economic Zones

The Rwanda Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is a programme within the Rwanda Development Board that is designed to address domestic private sector constraints such as; availability of industrial and commercial land, availability and the cost of energy, limited transport linkages, market access and availability of skills and managed by the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZAR) as the regulating body, has issued four regulations to enable it to operate better.

Regulation No. 02/2012/SEZAR of 20/12/2012 on the Zones One-Stop-Shops.
The Special Economic Zones Regulatory Authority of Rwanda (SEZAR) will be empowered to set-up a one-stop-shop for each Zone to provide the Developer, Operator, Zone Users and Zone Residents streamlined procedures in a single one-stop-shop assembling representatives from all relevant and concerned governmental bodies.

Services to be rendered by the One-Stop-Shop will include all services which might be required by Zone Developer, Operator, Zone Users, and Zone Residents including those required for entry, stay and residence, start-up, operation and closing of business. The One-Stop-Shops shall be administratively managed by SEZAR.

Regulation No. 01/2012/SEZAR of 20/12/2012 on the Development and Operation of Special Economic Zones.
The purpose of this regulation is to regulate Zone developers and operators through the issuance of the Developer/Operator licenses of the Rwanda Special Economic Zones.

The issuance of Licenses shall be followed by the execution with SEZAR and the selected developer and operator of a development or operator agreement.

In the event of violation of the Zones Law, its implementing orders, the license, the provisions of the developer agreement or operator agreement or any Law by the Zone developer or operator licensee, SEZAR reserves the final decision to the effect.

Regulation No. 03/2012/SEZAR of 20/12/2012 on the Special Economic Zones Users
This regulation regulates Special Economic Users licenses, rights and obligations which means that any applicant wishing to obtain a Zone User license should submit an application with SEZAR in its office.

SEZAR shall either grant or reject the granting of the Zone User license within three (3) working days from the date of submission of a complete application. Application forms will also be available on the SEZAR website that is still under construction. This will provide a facility for on-line application.

Regulation No. 04/2012/SEZAR of 20/12/2012 on the Designation of Special Economic Zones in Rwanda.
This regulation regulates the procedure for the designation of Special Economic Zones.

All determinations of Zone designation shall be based on written applications submitted to SEZAR. Such applications may be prepared and filed by either private, public or public-private applicants, including SEZAR itself which can decide to establish a Zone based on its own initiative. The application submitted by an entity other than SEZAR must be in the form provided by SEZAR. Such a form will also be available on the SEZAR website that is currently under construction and on-line applications will be highly recommended.

SEZAR shall ensure that the evaluation criteria provided for by the Law regulating Special Economic Zone in Rwanda and those provided for by Article 10 of this Regulation are adhered to before recommending the designation of a particular Zone.

The Special Economic Zones provide designated, serviced land for small and large scale industrial development, as well as reliable, quality infrastructure, competitive fiscal regulations and streamlined administration procedures. The Special Economic Zones provide the opportunity to cluster anchor tenants with suppliers and other service providers, thereby creating jobs in skilled sectors and encouraging knowledge transfer.

Rwanda SEZs
The SEZ program in Rwanda commenced way back in 2006 and since then, more activities were undertaken in order to move forward the Special Economic Zones program. These activities are related to regulatory framework, and development of Kigali Special Economic Zone and other potential zones. Legal instruments that have been formulated and enacted include the law No 05/2011 of 21/3/2011 regulating Special Economic Zones in Rwanda, a policy, ministerial order on licensing fees, ministerial order on negative lists and Prime Minister’s order establishing the Special Economic Zones Authority of Rwanda (SEZAR).

From the implementation perspective, so far, the Kigali Special Economic Zone has been set up through the merger of Kigali Free Trade Zone and Kigali Industrial Park projects. The Kigali Special Economic Zone is developed in phases with infrastructure in phase I almost complete (approximately 98%) and those in Phase II at approximately 30%. Furthermore, most of plots in Phase I (more than 89%) have been booked by investors and those in Phase II are being booked.

The Special Economic Zones Authority of Rwanda (SEZAR) was established pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Order as provided for by Law No 05/2011 of 21/3/2011 Regulating Special Economic Zones in Rwanda. This Authority is tasked to regulate, coordinate, administer, and provide strategic planning and monitoring for Special Economic Zones in Rwanda in accordance with the Zones Law and Regulations.

The Kigali Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is currently being developed in Gasabo District with phase one and two occupying 98 and 178 hectares of land respectively.

The government is now planning for phase three, which is expected to occupy 134 hectares. Phases one and two of the zone cover a surface area of 277 hectares while the third phase will cover approximately 134 hectares.

Phase one is at 96 per cent completion where infrastructural developments are in the final stages of

completion, which includes tarmac roads, water and electricity rollout in all designated plots and a

waste water treatment plant, are all in place.

This programme is designed to provide investors with industrial and commercial land, improve availability of electricity, transport linkages, market access and availability of skills

The Special Economic Zones programme is jointly run by the government and private investors. The government’s role is to provide basic infrastructure and administrative requirements.

The Special Economic Zones have the ability to promote private investment, industry and export growth as they offer quality infrastructure, streamlined business regulations and incentives to investors and businesses

The new SEZ may also include free trade zones, technology parks and tourist parks. This will lead to a rapid growth of Industry, job creation and skills transfer, and increase in both domestic and foreign investment

Currently, KSEZ provides designated, serviced land for small and large scale industrial development,

as well as reliable, quality infrastructure, competitive fiscal regulations and streamlined administration


KSEZ is a partnership between the government, Rwanda Development Bank (BRD), Rwanda Social

Security Board (RSSB), insurance firm- SONARWA, Prime Holdings, MAGERWA and Bond