BRD, Shelter-Afrique reassure on Rugarama housing Project

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BRD chief executive Alex Kanyankole says the project is on course. (File photo.)

The development of Rugarama Park Estate Limited, a joint venture between Shelter Afrique and the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) will not be stalled by the former’s current financial impasse, officials from both institutions have said.

Media reports earlier indicated that the African Development Bank (AfDB) had halted the disbursement of $8.2m equity input to Shelter-Afrique as it looks into allegations of creative accounting.

However, Vipya Harawa, Shelter Afrique’s director of corporate affairs, moved to re-assure Rwandans, saying the Rugarama Park Estate project will proceed as planned.

The Rugarama project involves the redevelopment of an informal settlement, about 8km outside of Kigali. It is estimated to create about 50,000 construction-related jobs and will deliver 2,700 units of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms.

“Rugarama is proceeding as planned. The launch should take place early next year. There is no impasse on the project,” Harawa told The New Times yesterday.
Alex Kanyankole, the chief executive of BRD, told The New Times that the project was not financed by AfDB and that the reports would not affect the bank’s joint venture with Shelter Afrique.

“There wont be any change on the projects implemented in Rwanda,” Kanyankole said.

BRD’s head of the housing department Robert Runazi said they had no official knowledge of the decision by AfDB and re-assured that it would not affect the project, which is already in the implementation phase.

“This is a Rwandan project and Shelter Afrique came on board as one of the investors. They are working with BRD who are open to working with investors,” Runazi said.

“We are glad to be working with them. Everything is in high gear and we are moving ahead with the project. I am not aware of anything that is going to derail the project,” he added. 

On the defence

Shellter Afrique’s Harawa went on to dispel fears that the organisation was not in financial position to continue with the project, saying they were growing sustainably and were in the process of expansion.

“Our business continues to grow on a sustainable basis and we can assure you that there are no threats to stakeholders and staff. We are actually still expanding as you will note with the opening of our regional office in West Africa in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, two weeks ago, and the countless projects we have initiated and plan to initiate in the next few months across the continent,” Harawa added.

In Rwanda, Harawa noted, Shelter Afrique is keen on affordable housing projects through public-private partnerships, adding that funding avenues had already been established.

“For Rwanda, our current focus is the pivotal role we are to play in the provision of affordable housing units with Rugarama and other such private-public partnerships with the Government. The project is designed to be self-sustaining and funding pipelines have already been well-established,” Harawa said.

In response to allegations of manipulating their books of accounts, Harawa said that the firm runs in accordance with its statutes, policies and procedures, as well as international accounting, governance and management practices.

The Rugarama Housing Project

The project, which is currently under development, aims at availing 2,700 affordable housing units with the housing financier providing a $10 million line of credit to BRD.

The entire project will cost over $160 million, with Shelter Afrique’s debt and equity exposure totaling $60 million, according to a statement from the housing financier.

The statement puts the average cost of the housing units in the range of $25,000 to $60,000.

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