state building

The Foundation for Reconstruction: Building the Rwanda Revenue Authority, 2001-2017

Leon Schreiber
Focus Area(s)
Country of Reform

After the 1994 genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, Rwanda’s tax collection collapsed to $132 million in 1996 from $225 million in 1990. Aside from its desperate need for money to pay for reconstruction, the new unity government, led by Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front, was also determined to break its dependence on foreign donors by becoming entirely self-funding. To do that, Kagame’s government had to convince a traumatized and distrustful public to pay its fair share of taxes. In 1998, the government replaced the existing tax and customs departments with the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), a semiautonomous tax agency. The RRA overhauled tax collection procedures, increased staff capacity, improved information management, and launched a massive and sustained public education campaign in an effort to build a new social contract. As a result, in 2017 Rwanda collected in three weeks the same amount of tax it had collected annually a dozen years earlier. From 1998 to 2017, Rwanda’s tax-to-GDP ratio improved from 10.8% to 16.7%, and total tax revenues collected grew more than 10-fold to $1.3 billion. Moreover, from 2007 to 2017 alone, the number of registered taxpayers grew 13-fold—from 26,526 to 355,128—though Rwanda was one of the world’s poorest countries and most of its labor force of 6.3 million still had incomes below the threshold that made them tax eligible. By 2017, the government financed 62% of its annual budget from domestic tax revenues, up from just 39% in 2000. The country was on its way to ending donor dependence.

Leon Schreiber drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018. Case published May 2018.

To view a short version of the case, please click here

Mohamed Fadal

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Focus Area(s)
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Country of Reform
Richard Bennet and Michael Woldemariam
Mohamed Fadal
Interviewee's Position
Lead Researcher
Interviewee's Organization
Academy for Peace and Development, Somaliland
Nationality of Interviewee
Hargeisa, Somaliland
Date of Interview
Reform Profile

Mohamed Fadal discusses the state and institution building process in Somaliland, with a focus on the role of the diaspora and civil society in the years following Somaliland’s declaration of independence.  He details the civil conflict in Somaliland in the early 1990s and explains the conflict-resolution process that followed.  Fadal also discusses the role of clans in Somali politics, and the House of Elders as an institution in Somaliland’s government.  Finally he touches on the constitution-drafting process and the challenges facing Somaliland for continued stability.    

Case Studies:  Nurturing Democracy in the Horn of Africa: Somaliland's First Elections, 2002-2005 and Navigating a Broken Transition to Civilian Rule: Somaliland: 1991-2001


At the time of this interview, Mohamed Fadal was lead researcher at the Academy for Peace and Development in Somaliland.  He was also the director of the Social Research and Development Institute in Somaliland and coordinator of the Independent Scholars Group.  Fadal formerly served as minister of planning.

Full Audio File Size
66 MB
Full Audio Title
Mohamed Fadal Interview