One of the keys to economic transformation across Africa today is a greater role for employment-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing. After taking due account of differences in contexts and time periods, international experience – especially in Asia but also in Africa-region leaders such as Mauritius – points to employment-intensive manufacturing as a crucial and indispensable step in the transition from poverty to development.
Rwanda is – along with Ethiopia – exceptional in Africa in that it has in place a nation-building project centred on the aim of economic transformation. Features of its political economy also mean Rwanda lends itself easily to comparison with the best-documented experiences in Asia. This paper explores the ways in which international experience of success in manufacturing-based economic transformation can provide valuable insight for Rwanda, in the areas of government coordination, engagement with and representation of the private sector, and the experimental learning process.