Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Africa

Extent of Drug Abuse

According to arrests data from the Public Ministry, there were 600 annual and 200 daily abusers of cannabis and 100 annual and 10 daily abusers of heroin in 1990 (U.N. 1990).  Cannabis and heroin were reported to be the most prevalent drugs of abuse in 1989 also (CMO 1989).

Abuser Characteristics

Drug abusers tend to be unemployed, low income earners, drivers and carriers, from urban areas, with low levels of training or education.  Cannabis and heroin abusers were reported to be in average around 25 years of age (CMO 1989; U.N. 1990).

                                                                       Regional Variations

Drugs are abused mainly in urban areas (CMO 1989; Interpol 1993).


A large decrease in heroin and cannabis consumption was reported in 1990.  The decrease in heroin abuse was attributed to increased control and prevention activities by relevant public services and reeducation of abusers. The decrease in cannabis abuse was reported to be due to destruction of cultivation areas, as well as to educational talks and control searches (U.N. 1990).

            In contrast with the decrease in cannabis consumption reported for the year 1990 (U.N. 1990), a 1993 report suggests an increase in cannabis production (Interpol 1993).

Mode of Intake

Heroin is reported to be taken orally and cannabis smoked (U.N. 1990).


There were no deaths reported to be due to drug abuse (CMO 1989).


National Strategy

The collection of drug related data is carried out by the Ministry of Justice, the Central Information Service (Kigali National Central Bureau, Interpol), the National Gendarmerie, the Central Records Service and the Customs Services (CMO 1989).

            An anti-drug brigade has been created consisting of technical staff from various departments, as well as, ministries involved in drug control matters.  This brigade was reported not yet in operation in 1992 (INCB 1992).

            The need for an epidemiological study on the extent and patterns of drug abuse in Rwanda has been expressed by the government (INCB 1992).  Registers of drug producers, sellers and abusers are reported to be kept since 1987 and an in-depth study on the abuse of drugs in Rwanda was to be carried out in 1990 with the financial assistance of UNESCO (CMO 1989).

                                                    Structure of National Drug Control Organs

There is no central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy. The Pharmaceutical Directorate within the Ministry of Public Health acts as national competent authority for the issuance of export and import authorizations.


                                                                         Treaty Adherence

Rwanda is Party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and to the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

                                                 Measures Taken with Respect to Drug Control

Recently enacted laws and regulations:
None reported.

Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution:
There is a government-controlled licensing system for both narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. No manufacture of psychotropic substances and narcotic drugs takes place.

Control system:
(i) Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(ii) Warnings on packages: The law does not require warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(iii) Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported.
(iv) Other administrative measures: None reported.

                                                                          Social Measures

Penal sanctions related to social measures: In 1990, courts did not apply measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence.

Other social measures: None reported.

                                                       DEMAND REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Primary Prevention

Drug prevention campaigns are carried out through the media; radio broadcasts appeal to the people, on the occasion of visits of political figures, to report drug abusers and traffickers to authorities (CMO 1989).

            Plans for a meeting between INCB, Interpol and journalists were reported for 1990, to enable journalists to inform the general public on the harmful effects of drugs.  A meeting with local authorities was also planned in 1990 to educate the people about the various drugs seized in the country (CMO 1989).

            Preventive education programmes are provided for pregnant women during their pre-natal consultations (CMO 1989).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

Drug abusers who have undergone treatment are integrated into cooperatives or artisans associations (CMO 1989).

                                                        SUPPLY REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Arrests, Convictions and Types of Offenses

Officials had previously thought that cannabis traffic was limited to local and interregional activities.  However, a new trend reported is the international dimension to the cannabis traffic.  This observation was made following the arrest of a Rwanda national in Paris in November 1992, in possession of almost 19 kg of cannabis leaves.  Official sources report only small drug dealers and consumers who have been brought to the attention of the authorities following crimes and violence committed while they were under the influence of cannabis (Rwanda 1993).  It is reported that persons suspected of drug trafficking are not placed under surveillance because of the shortage of resources (CMO 1989).

            In 1990, 1,169 persons were apprehended and 424 condemned for the possession of cannabis.  During the same year, 2 persons were apprehended and 2 condemned for the trafficking of cocaine (U.N. 1990).

            A Rwanda national was arrested in Pakistan with 2.8 kg of heroin in her possession (Rwanda 1993).


In 1992, 419.3 kg of cannabis herb and 25 kg of cannabis seeds were seized (Other 1992).  In 1992, there were 63 seizures with a total of 195.600 kg of cannabis.  There were no seizures of heroin, cocaine and psychotropic substances (Interpol 1993). Record seizures were made in 1992 on the frontier between Rwanda and Zaire (Rwanda 1993).

            Heroin trafficking from Nairobi through Rwanda to Belgium and France was first reported around 1989.  The absence of a specialized anti-drug brigade at the airport is reported to seriously hamper the fight against this type of trafficking (Rwanda 1993).

                                                                    Supply Source of Drugs

Cannabis is grown in Rwanda, but the extent has not been determined.  The authorities have learned from arrested drug traffickers that in addition to local sources, cannabis is trafficked from neighboring countries (Uganda, Tanzania and Zaire).  It is believed that Rwanda is a transit point for cocaine traffickers too (Rwanda 1993).

            Heroin traffickers based in Nairobi began to recruit citizens of Rwanda as drug smugglers around 1989.  At about the same time the airport of Kigari (Kanombe) began to be used as a transit point for heroin obtained in Nairobi and intended for Belgian and French clandestine markets.  Since then control efforts have been increased at the airport (Rwanda 1993).

References and Notes

U.N. 1990. Reply to the UNDCP "Annual Reports Questionnaire" for the year 1990.

CMO 1989. Reply to the questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the "Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control" (CMO) for the year 1989.

INCB 1992. Report of Rwanda to the INCB training seminar for drug control administrators. Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, December 1992.

Interpol 1993.  "Situation de la Drogue au Rwanda".  Bureau Anti-Drogue, Interpol- Kigali.

Other 1992.  Figures obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by Governments or from other official sources.

Rwanda 1993. National Report of Rwanda to the Sixth Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA), Africa, May 1993.

** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaire for the year 1990.