The Board of Directors of Rwanda Investment Group (RIG), recently appointed Fiacre G. BIRASA as the new Director General.
He has been with RIG since October 2006. Prior to his appointment, Birasa was the Chief Operations Officer and has been the Acting Director General of RIG SA from February 2009.
He spoke to Business Times’ BERNA NAMATA about his new appointment which has been effective since August 3, 2009.
How do you view your appointment as the new Director of RIG?
For me it is a normal process because it is a kind of continuity since I started working here almost at the beginning of RIG and a few months ago I was acting.
I am happy working for RIG, because people behind it decided to put money together to invest in high profitable projects but most importantly to have a big impact on the development of the country.
When you are sitting in this kind of position, you are not allowed to just make decisions because the share holders have a vision. My task is to execute the vision of the shareholders of the company.
I am here to guide and bring contribution to the process of achieving the company’s vision- to be one of the biggest and best investment vehicles in the region, serving as a successful business model.
What do you envisage as the biggest challenge at hand as you take on new assignments?
Our biggest challenge is that we are an investment company and sometimes the result of this kind of business takes a while to be visible, it is not like a commercial one.
The beginning is very slow thereafter you have to consolidate to make sure that even if you are slow, you achieve!
At the moment I take up the position in good timing because we shall start to speed up what was going slowly (projects) due to the nature of the company.
The main challenge today is to speed up, to show achievements to the shareholders and the people who are watching us. Where possible I will put pressure to achieve tangible results.
I have been here for the last three years, so I know the short cuts. My main preoccupation is to deliver to the shareholders.
To what extent has RIG been affected by the global economic down turn?
A number of our projects have been affected by the financial crisis, specifically the Cement Factory.
We had already deposited a down payment almost a year ago but it has been a “headache” to the balance required from local banks. But fortunately we are now finding solutions for it.
Our projects require a lot of money that can not only be obtained on the local market.
We were affected because some of our partners, sources of funding are in the developed world which has been hit hard by the crisis.
This explains why we have had delays in implementing some of our projects. For some projects we were expecting money to come from International banks but this has not been possible.
The world today has become a global village— what happens in one part of the world can also affect other parts of the world.
The world economy is still far from recovery, what does this mean for your planned investments?
The global financial crisis is not entirely responsible for not implementing the projects.
Partly because we were still new, trying to set a foundation for the company.
We needed partners but people do not just “jump” into a project, they think twice before they can come on board. Our strategy was to first establish ourselves and have some tangible achievements to attract partners.
We have established a wide range of investments in country including-development of Kigali Industrial Park (KIP Ltd), Peat Energy Company (PEC Ltd ), Rwanda Energy Company (REC Ltd), and CIMERWA Ltd .
We have been able to do this over the years—we have made tangible progress and this will give confidence to people (foreigners) who want to pattern with us.
I am now confident in the coming months most of the projects will kick off. I believe success leads to success, when you have succeeded you become a reliable partner.
What do you foresee as the future of RIG under your leadership?
RIG is a symbol of success, not only on the Rwandan level but the region. RIG is going to be much known as a model of success.
It is a motivation for people to think big! Today, if you want to achieve something, it goes with economics of scale.
This will bring other Rwandans to be more competitive on the international market.
We also want to show that Rwanda is making a difference in different aspects including business. This is what I hope to achieve.
On a lighter note, who are you?
I am married with two children, a daughter and a son. I hold an MBA in finance from Laval University of Canada.
I also have post graduate diploma in International Development from the University of Ottawa. Most of my working experience is with the Canadian Corporation, International organizations like UNDP.
I have been with RIG since October 2006 as the Chief of Operations. Now I am the director of RIG.