Tomorrow, Tuesday 4th May, MTN Rwanda is scheduled to list on the Rwanda Stock Exchange where 1,350,886,600 ordinary shares will be registered at an initial listing price of Rwf269 per share. Last week, the firm revealed that they had received a ‘go-ahead’ from the Central Bank to set up its FinTech subsidiary, Mobile Money Rwanda Ltd which was mandated to run the telecom’s mobile money operations effective April 27. The New Times’ Collins Mwai spoke to Yolanda Cuba, the MTN Group Regional Vice President Southern and East Africa on the firm’s listing, developments and plans for the short term among other subjects. Excerpts below: This week, MTN Rwanda is directly listing on the Rwanda Stock Exchange, what are your expectations from the process? From an MTN standpoint, we are expecting that more and more people get interested in investing in the Rwanda Stock Exchange, we will be on the material counter of the stock exchange. For us, local people owning shares in the MTN business does mean that we are expanding our shared value initiatives and propositions where we want more people to share in the prosperity of the company. From the bourse, are you likely to be raising capital as opposed to debt approach? At this stage we do not need capital, this is a listing by introduction effectively unbundling the shares one of shareholders had. As part of the process, we are not seeking to raise capital, we are adequately capitalized to see through our medium-term plans. If there is ever a need to raise capital, we always look at it in terms of the context of the capital structure of the company at that point. What tends to happen is that debt is quite cheap compared to equity as it does not dilute our shareholding. In the short term, we do not anticipate anything that will change the capital structure. While MTN Rwanda’s direct listing has been well received, there have been questions around why only 20 per cent is available for trading by the public. Why the hesitance to go all the way? As a business, the board decides on the size of an offering during a listing based on a number of variables including if we need capital. One must note that on the listing of shares on the Rwanda Stock Exchange, Rwandans can trade shares on the secondary market which is open for anyone who would like to trade. For me, it’s not the limitation 20 per cent but rather the fact that we have a more liquid counter. Where people are able to see transparent value. For me, the wealth creation mechanism that has happened as a result of the transparency in the valuation is something to celebrate. Last week, MTN Rwanda received approval to set up a fintech firm to run telecom’s mobile money operations, can we assume banks have a new competitor now? Are we trying to be a bank? No. we are a Telco first and we know how to be a telco. What have we done to drive inclusion? We have used our own business model to understand what customers need and what are the things that enable financial inclusion? As a result of that, we have been able to say that whatever amount you have, you can put it somewhere. When you look at the bank infrastructure, it cannot afford to have people who are putting in very small amounts of money. As a result of all those things, we are able to include people that have previously been marginalized. That is our model. What aspects are we likely to see the firm most active in going forward? If, for example, I look at insurance, insurance premiums are paid monthly, big sums of money at a time. In terms of our world, we can look at the possibility of Nano-insurance for a specific activity. For instance, if someone is going upcountry can they get life cover for that trip while among established insurance players, they might not be able to do that. That is where we come in, the way I see it is that we cannot exist without the formal banking system and therefore we are there to augment and facilitate the general inclusion in this agenda. The next phase is around a sense of financial inclusion; can people get loans to do meaningful stuff that they need to do. That is what we are starting to drive to see how we can drive advanced services that make it easier to get services. For instance, if someone wants a loan to start a business, they might be looking at a loan of about as little as $50 or $100, we can model that. That is based on their financial behavior modeled on the telco side. Would you say that the key aim is to go beyond your 3.2m mobile money users or increase the possible transactions on the Mobile Money for users? We are dealing with both markets, if I look at expansion to get more people to have mobile handsets and also more people to have financial access, we are driving that deeply. We are driving that because we have distribution points everywhere. The more structured kind of banking doesn’t have that which is a natural limitation, we are planning to continue to expand in terms of number of mobile money users but in addition to that, deepen financial inclusion. Start-ups and emerging firms in the financial technology services sector are curious about whether you are open to cooperation and partnership or you are solely out for market dominance. What’s your preference? Our general model is around partnerships. If I pick up on the MTN Group strategy on where we see ourselves in what we call ambition 2025, we are looking at building platforms across multiple verticals, fintech is one of them. In the fintech space, in order to accelerate our ambitions, we have to partner, we have to accept that we do not have the capital that is required or that from an innovation perspective, we do not hold the monopoly on new ideas. We are planning on getting more and more partners to work with us in our ecosystem to drive our fintech. Partnership is a model that we are going for. In several markets, MTN Group has often been found not compliant by regulators and in some instances even been fined. Considering that MTN Rwanda is directly listing locally, do you have a new mechanism to ensure compliance for shareholders comfort? As a business, what are we committed to? We are committed to complying with all regulations in all countries we operate. We have had the fine for instance in Nigeria around SIM registration. In another country, based on the quality of service based on that specific countries’ requirements. We work with our regulators, governments and ministries to ensure that we have a conducive working environment which allows us to have environment that allows us to address issues that often arise. It is something that we are committed to across the board and having open engagement around challenges. It is challenging when you are reporting top-line growth to say that there are challenges in the business, we are always balancing with regulators and explaining to them what we invest in and what we are doing to make sure that there is growth. Speaking of regulators, what has been your experience with regard to the relationship between innovation and regulation? Does regulation stifle innovation? There are lots of clever young people. To expect regulation to be at pace with the energy and brilliance young people have is unrealistic. Regulation, unfortunately, tends to be behind innovation. What we need is a framework from regulators, a provision of a framework that makes it easier to have a conversation on the kind of regulation required around various innovations. Rwanda is great at this. We have not had innovation stifled in this market but it does happen in some other markets. Any other additional remarks? My concluding remarks, from an MTN perspective, what I have seen in Rwanda? I have seen many countries where I have had the red tape rolled out on us or the red carpet rolled out for us in terms of innovation and other things we want to achieve. Rwanda without a shadow of doubt is rolling out the red carpet for investment and we feel very comfortable with the investment that we are making in this country and the acceleration in terms of the future around ‘platformization’, in terms of our own strategy, and re-investing more and more to support the vision of the country.