Leapfrogging manufacturing? Rwanda’s attempt to build a services-led ‘developmental state’

Pritish Behuria, Tom Goodfellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A key characteristic of East Asian ‘developmental states’ was a strategic focus on manufacturing, but developing countries today face more complex decisions about whether to prioritise manufacturing or attempt to ‘leapfrog’ straight to services. Rwanda is a striking example of a country that both resembles a developmental state and employs a service-led strategy. We argue that, unlike the Asian developmental states, Rwanda is not experiencing an integrated process of transformation that ties human development together with economic growth. Instead, there are two parallel trajectories within the services sector: a growth story linked to investment in ‘modern’ services (such as tourism, finance and real estate), and a human development story linked to ‘basic’ services such as health and education, with limited linkages between the two. This mismatch between growth sectors and the labour force raises questions about the sustainability of services-led approaches and their ability to emulate the East Asian experience.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Early online date26 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Developmental state
  • FIRE
  • MICE
  • Rwanda
  • Services
  • Tourism

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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