Mauritian firm enters Kigali International Finance Centre

Nishi Kichenin.

A Mauritian Corporate Service Provider, Juris Tax is the latest entrant into the Kigali International Finance Centre.

Kigali International Finance Centre (KIFC), is an initiative that seeks to position Rwanda as a business and financial hub in Africa, as well as reforming the financial services.

 

The entrance of the firm into the local financial ecosystem is a result of efforts by Rwanda Finance Limited, the government agency overseeing the establishment of the centre through review of regulation and reaching out to potential investors seeking to do business in Africa.

 

The latest entrant will be offering a range of corporate services as well as capacity building.

 

The New Times’ Collins Mwai spoke to the firm’s Chief Executive Nishi Kichenin on their debut into the Rwandan market, opportunities identified as well as their view of the outlook of the sector.

Excerpts below:

As you enter the Rwandan market, what services do you intend to deliver?

Actually, JurisTax offers a wide array of services. These would range from Company Registration, formation, Corporate Administration and Secretarial Services, Accounting and Reporting, Taxation and Compliance Services, other regulatory Compliance-related services, Fund Administration and Accounting, Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism audits, just to mention a few.

However, we also expect to deliver ancillary services as may be required or customized by our client base, for example, there is often very specific services such as sustainability reporting, internal audits, corporate governance audits (including preparation and/or review of the relevant manuals and constitutive documents) which are required by our clients.

As it is, the scope would always be broadened and diverse as the market opens up. The aim is to always find that competitive edge in the service and quality level as we get more players getting in the market.

There has been talk that you are looking to start a regional training institute….

JurisTax has decided to assist in learning development, through its training institution - the African Training and Development Institute, due to open its doors in 2021, - to provide specialised and customized training services consisting of training in Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism, changes in the international tax landscape, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) updates, best practices to Corporate governance, and much more to the workforce.

By giving this extra edge to the local labour force, we would wish to start building a perennial foundation to the sector as well as ensuring the versatility and mobility of the personnel.

What was on your checklist when deciding to invest in the Rwandan market?

We believe that Rwanda has built on solid credentials being a politically stable country. Rwanda has enjoyed impressive economic growth rates averaging 7.9 per cent over the last 15 years and has made great strides on social standards and on the poverty front.

In order to sustain its growth and achieve its long term development goals, the government also implemented important structural reforms in many sectors.

The economy was projected to expand supported by exports, services and public sector investment in infrastructure and the strong record of implementing important structural reforms in many areas to sustain its growth and achieve its long-term development goals.

According to the 2019 World Bank Doing Business index, Rwanda is the 29th easiest place to do business in the world - the only low-income country (LIC) in the top 30.

In 2018, the RDB registered over US$2 billion worth of investments.

The 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranked Rwanda as the third least corrupt country on the African continent behind the Seychelles and Botswana.

Rwanda is in the process of establishing the Kigali International Finance Centre, what are your expectations of the set-up?

The KIFC will seek to establish itself as a gateway to attract business, trade, financial, banking and investment activities that are currently carried out outside of Rwanda. Such a business and financial hub would confer competitive advantages to institutions, corporates and private clients that have activities across the African continent with a focus on the Eastern and Central African region.

We strongly believe in the enabling legal and legislative framework which will be best in class when compared to competing jurisdictions that are already in that sector while being bespoke to the requirements of Rwanda. As Rwanda is investing in a comprehensive, modern, transparent and globally – recognized legal, tax, regulatory and supervisory regime, this will project very clear rules and guidelines for international investors and businesses.

Africa is known for its abundance of resources and we definitely want to build an integrated eco-system which is very intrinsic to the African characteristics and foremost, its culture. We believe that having the right regulatory framework in a country which is at the very heart of Africa may give the right assurance and proper signal to other countries and we firmly believe in that eco-synergy.

What do you make of the state of regulation in financial services in the country with regard to attractiveness for investors at the same time complying with international standards?

The system has been working well until now and for the country to enjoy internationally recognized credentials, we should fairly recognize that there has been a lot of efforts pulled by the local community. If we tend to look at the number of players in such a market, it already gives you an indication.

By instilling the KIFC in the economy, we very well know that this would call upon another standard of reporting.

If we have to talk about the accounting practice, the job done by Institute of Certified Public Accountants Rwanda (ICPAR) to date is very commendable. It is indeed a major step forward to have IFRS Standards incorporated into law or regulations

In fact, since 2008, the ICPAR Law made it explicit that, for public sector entities, the accounting standards shall be consistent with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), while in the private sector they shall be consistent with IFRS Standards.

Further, the Law required that auditing standards shall be consistent with the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) issued by International Federation of Accountants.

In 2009, similar requirements were included in the Companies Act of Rwanda of 2009. The jurisdiction also made a public commitment in support of moving towards a single set of high-quality global accounting standards.

In terms of the full array of corporate services, though we feel it is not well known to what extent this is an industry in itself, we strongly believe that the KIFC may bring the extra space it deserves to.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism space is another field in which we would see much development in the future and remains an important key factor especially in the current times. The KIFC is working a lot to ensure that it’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism framework becomes internationally recognized and trusted by its players and international regulators.

What gaps have you identified within KIFC that you’d like addressed to improve the outlook of the sector?

We would not say gaps. In fact, we have to admit that the Government of Rwanda and the different institutions have done significant work till now and they are still doing it. We know what the KIFC entails for the country and where it wants to be. It is now time for market players to come forward to continue the work in progress.

We believe that the KIFC would come as a very different International Finance Centre in contrast to the other African platforms and there is much synergy and coordination to ensure that the final product comes to address a lot of the shortcomings that we have seen in other International Finance Centres.

In other markets, Juris Tax often works closely with fund managers.  Is Juris Tax entrance into the Rwandan market likely to drive up the interest of such partners?

JurisTax works with numerous players on the market and this includes Asset Managers like Providentia as you mentioned.

In fact, we favour a complete ecosystem of financial players (and even non-financial) and these also involve brokers, insurance / re-insurance players, auditors, bankers, tax advisors, legal advisors, investment advisors, family offices etc.

What we need to ensure is that everyone gets its fair share and this is how the blending takes form. By entering the Rwandan market, we also want to bring that full circle of players and vested stakeholders who do not yet know the market.

***

What is Kigali International Finance Centre?

Kigali International Finance Centre (KIFC) is an initiative by the Government that seeks to position Rwanda as a business and financial hub in Africa as well as reforming the financial services.   

The reforms are under three key pillars; laws and regulations within the financial service sector, the tax policy as relates to the financial sector, and skills and capacity development as relates to the financial service sector. The project is steered and overseen by Rwanda Finance Limited.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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