Business round-up: Millicom awarded third telecom operator license

A top government official this week revealed that Millicom International Cellular, a Luxembourg based telecommunications group was awarded a licence as the third national telecoms operator in Rwanda.

A top government official this week revealed that Millicom International Cellular, a Luxembourg based telecommunications group was awarded a licence as the third national telecoms operator in Rwanda.

Romain Murenzi, Minister in President’s Office in charge of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) said that the licence was awarded in December 2008 during the last cabinet meeting basing on the background paperwork provided by Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority (RURA) approved by the ICT Ministry.

The licence was awarded upon payment of USD60 million licence fee which was to be operational over 15 years and the company is expected to start operations soon after rolling out the necessary infrastructure.

The firm beat competition from Telecel Globe, Zain and Larrycom-Expresso. In central Africa, Millicom operates cable and broadband businesses in five countries.

The firm’s operations in countries such as Tanzania and DR Congo have a combined population under licence estimated at 291 million.

The entry of another operator after Rwandatel and MTN-Rwandacell is believed to further positively impact on the levelling of the playing field within Rwandan telecoms where currently penetration rates are estimated at about 11 percent.

National lottery winners hit 3200

Tilia Games, an entertainment solutions provider operating the National lottery under the licence of Lotto Rwanda hit 3200 winners in three weeks of business.

According to the Project Director for Tilia Games, Johannes Lind, ’There are 1,065 winners in the weekly lottery draws on average where a minimum of USD55, 555 (Rwf.30 million) cash and other prizes are awarded.

In one of its gambling programmes dubbed, ‘Crazy Sunday’, a young man aged 20, Zuberi Hakizimana, won Rwf.10million. The programme is held every Sunday from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

He was however optimistic that the winners may increase up to 85,000 once their operations are launched countrywide by April this year. This expansion programme goes in tandem with that of Rwandatel’s upcountry drives.

This however depends on the ticket sales, which are currently estimated at 25,000 being sold per week. According to the programme, winners are drawn every weekend after procuring a lottery ticket bought at Rwf.300, which are sold on the streets by authorised vendors with cellular handsets connected to GPRS technology provided by Rwandatel.

Virtual human resource firm steps into Rwanda

NFT Consult, a Ugandan based personnel service firm has established an office in Kigali, Rwanda. According to company officials, the firm’s expansion to Rwanda is intended to take advantage of the country’s growing economy with untapped human resource services.

Fiona Kirabo, the firm’s Country Manager said that NFT Consult provides human resources management and expertise to businesses that are strategically positioning themselves to remain competitive within the local economy.

She added, “Human resource development is an organisation’s most valued asset that collectively contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the business.”

NFT Consult offers recruiting, outsourcing and training solutions that manage Human resource functions. However in Rwanda, NFT provides services such as permanent, temporary and contract recruiting, organisational restructuring, individual employee assessments, training packages, team building programmes and outsourcing of company staff as well as departments.

With only two months of operation in the country, the firm provides services to Rwandatel and other corporate companies.

Country’s first silk textile on market next month

Rwanda’s first silk fabric produced by Usine Textile du Rwanda (Utexrwa) will be out on the local market early February of this year.

According to the Utexrwa Managing Director, Raj Rajendran, the launch will see silk ties, scarves and Imishananah, all Rwandan made availed on the local market earlier than expected.

This follows the company’s investments of US$5 million in the importation of semi-automatic yarning machines, which followed the mulberry cultivation in Nyandungu and manpower training in late 2007.

The management of Utexrwa thus projected their first commercial silk products to hit the market by mid 2009 as it underwent different stages of production.

The company plans to focus on value addition and export markets after the launch on local market. With the first batch of export products is expected in March or April, about USD15-20 million per annum of earnings are anticipated in the next four to five years.

While the company plans to increase on production and value, management is however concerned that the cocoons produced by farmers are still below capacity and the skilled labour in the country is not enough.

Utexrwa is Rwanda’s oldest single textile industry that diversified into silk production last year.

Rajendran said that the industry expects to create about 6,000 jobs within farm and rural sectors with an additional 500 jobs created within the textile industry. Currently, it employs about 800 (both skilled and unskilled) workers.

Rwf23 billion for investment in tea plantations, factories

Rwanda Tea Authority (Ocir-The) requires a financial outlay of USD41Million (Rwf.23 Billion) worth of investments in the sector to achieve the 9,000 hectares of extra tea plantations it is targeting by 2012.

The authority responsible for the supervision of the tea sector in the country also targets five extra factories by 2012 to process the extra production anticipated.

Anthony Butera, the Director General of Ocir-The said, “The tea authority on its own may have to part with US$18.5Million (Rwf10.4b) to US$20 Million (Rwf11.2b).

This Western area of the country is anticipated to be designated as a tea belt due in part to the conducive conditions it offers for tea growing such as has higher altitude.

Local and foreign investors are expected to set up factories having been endorsed by government. The investments could boost the crop’s production volume which fell by 1,000 metric tones from 20,400 metric tonnes in 2007 to 19,400 metric tonnes in 2008.

Butera attributed the fall in tea production to the harsh weather that hit the sector throughout last year.

Tea, one of the country’s top export crops in terms of value and volume is estimated to have fetched USD44 million last year and Rwanda Tea Agency now targets US$54m (Rwf.30.3b) this year.

Ends

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