Eastern Africa Economy


Rwanda became independent in 1962. The civil war in the mid-1990’s resulted in genocide and a huge influx of refugees. The densely populated country lacks natural resources. The economy, which has recovered unexpectedly quickly after the civil war, is based on agriculture. The situation for the union has also normalized.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 26 338 km²

Capital: Kigali

Language: Official languages ​​are Kinyarwanda, French and English

Labor market and economy:

Rwanda is Africa’s most densely populated country with a population of just under 12 million on an area slightly smaller than Dalarna. The 1994 genocide caused the economy to collapse, but Rwanda has recovered unexpectedly quickly; Inflation is under control and corruption is low by African standards. Rwanda also excels in a number of unexpected areas; the country has the world’s highest proportion of women in parliament (64 percent), uses drones to deliver medicine to rural health care facilities, a modern IT-based system for surveying and settling land disputes, and in 2019 became the first country to look like a zero vision regarding cervical cancer.

Agriculture employs about 90 percent of the population and exports of coffee and tea account for 63 percent of export earnings. Child labor is common, especially on tea plantations.

Rwanda has few natural resources and a very small industrial sector, but the government is investing in to develop the IT sector to become a leader in the field in East Africa. Tourism is also growing rapidly (mountain gorillas).

The World Bank and the IMF have granted Rwanda amortization of parts of the country’s debts.


The archipelago northeast of Madagascar was uninhabited until the end of the 18th century. On many small islands over a large area live only 97,000 people. The Seychelles, which became independent from Great Britain in 1976, has long had a very high standard of living for African conditions. However, the economy is unilaterally focused on tourism. There are two central trade unions in the country.

Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 454 km2

Capital: Victoria

Language: Seselwa (Creole) French, English

Labor market and economy:

The country’s relatively good economy can be entirely attributed to the tourism industry, which contributes 55 percent of GDP and provides jobs for 25 percent of the entire workforce.

The government is trying to encourage other industries, e.g. fished. Tuna is an export product which, however, is threatened by excessive fishing. An agreement has been signed with the EU on how the waters around the archipelago may be used. Agriculture is poorly developed and the country is dependent on food imports. The Seychelles have a large foreign debt and exports are only half as large as imports. Unemployment in the country is low, about 4 percent.

The Seychelles has become a financial center with many international companies attracted to the island nation with tax exemption and bank secrecy. However, tax legislation has been tightened somewhat in 2018.


Somalia is a distinct clan society and a large part of the population are nomads. According to Countryaah, Somalia is one of the few countries in Africa where the same language is spoken by most in the country. The northern part of the country, Somaliland, considers itself an independent state which, however, is not internationally recognized. Since 1991, there has been civil war and chaos. The terrorist organization Al Shabaab has occasionally controlled parts of the country. Some societal functions have slowly begun to function again and certain trade union activities can be conducted.


Country Facts

State condition: Uncertain at present

Surface: 637 660 km²

Capital: Mugadishu

Language: Somali

Labor market and economy:

The vast majority of the population earns their living through work in the informal sector. A large proportion are nomads. Livestock and fishing are the main industries. Telecommunications companies provide the cheapest prices for international traffic in Africa. The supply situation is critical in the country due to the war and crop failure.

There are no reliable figures on unemployment, but it is judged to be very high, especially among young people.


Some trade union activity can be conducted; Somalia has now ratified a total of six of the ILO’s core conventions. It is seen as a great success for the trade union organization that has pushed the issue. Although the opportunities for trade union activity have improved somewhat in recent years, there have also been murders of trade unionists. The World Trade Union Confederation, the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC have protested and the ILO has also spoken out and demanded that the government take action. The International Federation of Journalists, IFJ, has repeatedly protested and demanded that the government stop restricting freedom of expression and take action against and arrest those who attack and murder journalists.



In 1964, Tanganyika and Zanzibar formed the Union of Tanzania. The country has been politically stable since independence, but is very poor. Tanzania is the country that has received the most financial assistance in Africa. The trade union movement is well organized, but trade union rights are often violated. Two confederations – TUCTA on the mainland and in Zanzibar ZATUC is b on da connected to the World Trade unions, the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 945 090 km²

Capital: Dodoma (Parliament), Dar es Salam (Government)

Language: Kiswahili official language, English spoken

Labor market and economy:

Tanzania’s first president, Julius Nyerere, tried to build an African socialism, but since his resignation in 1985, the country has developed into a liberal market economy. In recent years, the regime has developed in an increasingly authoritarian direction with the suppression of dissent. In the 2019 local elections, the opposition did not dare to run with candidates due to the fear of reprisals. The unions have also felt the harsher political climate.

Economic development has been very positive in recent years, including large gas and gold deposits, which have led to a sharp increase in foreign investment, not least Chinese, and Tanzania is now one of the so-called lion economies in Africa. The country is part of a free trade area with just over 40 other African countries. An economic cooperation with other East African countries are being developed, including the feel let that have a common currency.

Agriculture accounts for two-thirds of exports and about 65 percent make a living on small-scale agriculture. Climate and soil, however, limit cultivation opportunities. Tourism and mining, including large gold deposits, are important for the economy. Gold now accounts for about 30 percent of exports. In recent years, the government has tried to take control of the industry, get companies to report their profits and pay taxes in the country. Working conditions in the mining industry are often substandard and child labor occurs.

Unemployment is just over 10 percent in total, but significantly higher among young people in the larger cities. 80 percent of the workforce is low-skilled, which is considered a problem for the country’s economic development.

In 2019, the age limit for entering into marriage was raised from 15 to 18 years.


Uganda became independent from Britain in 1962. The country was then one of Africa’s most prosperous, but misrule and dictatorship destroyed the economy. Uganda has recovered but the regime is authoritarian and President Museveni has pursued an aggressive foreign policy. Trade union activity is tightly regulated. There are two central trade unions, of which one NOTU, the National Organization of Trade Unions, is affiliated with the World Trade Union, International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 241 139 km²

Capital: Kampala

Language: Official English language, luganda largest local language

Labor market and economy:

At independence in 1962, Uganda had a well-developed economy, based on agriculture with expanded health care and a functioning education system, but the economy was completely destroyed under Idi Amin. The country has recovered and no longer belongs to the group of “least developed countries”, but the cuts in the public sector have increased unemployment and military involvement abroad has taken a heavy toll on the economy. Oil deposits in western Uganda have begun to be explored.

The conditions for agriculture are very good, both in terms of climate and soil. 72 percent make a living from agriculture, compared with 3 percent who work in the manufacturing industry. Coffee accounts for a large share of Uganda’s exports.

Unemployment is very high, especially among young people. More than every second young person is out of work. Child labor is widespread. 30 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 13 work and more than 50% of those aged 14-17.