As we crossed over to 2009,Rwanda’s investment scene during the course of 2008 had recorded very exciting developments. This writer examines some of the milestones witnessed by the country’s investment scene during the course of 2008.
Just a month when the year had begun, on January31, 2008, the financial sector in the country experienced landmark developments with the launch of the Capital Market Advisory Council (CMAC) and the Rwanda Over The Counter (OTC) Market.
At the launch, President Paul Kagame described it as ‘an important achievement which will provide the business community with a second option to financing that is long term and which will inevitably add great value to our economy’.
Though no company is yet listed on this bourse, the Rwanda OTC market has since then listed three government Treasury bonds and one corporate bond issued by the Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR).
In March 2008, CMAC was fully integrated into the East African Securities Regulatory Authority (EASRA) in a move experts said would foster the integration of East African securities markets by December 2009.
A stock exchange is regarded as something that will increase access capital for firms and increased savings and investment alternatives for Rwandans. Currently, CMAC is forging ways how it can tap on diaspora remittances.
James Musoni the minister of finance and economic planning, while presiding over the best investor and exporter awards of the year said that the banking sector has never been healthier than it is today. His statements are justified by the entry of a host of major giant banks into the Rwandan market in the year 2008.
Kenya Commercial Bank made a direct entry into Rwanda at the beginning of December, months after Access Bank Plc, from Nigeria bought 75 percent of Bacor.
In May, Shorecap International, Africa Invest and Belgium Investment Company (BIO) all acquired 40 percent of Cogebanque.
Just prior to these deals, in May 2008 Rabo Bank, from Netherlands made its entry into Rwanda through a 35 percent acquisition of Bank Populaire Du Rwanda.
Altira Group (AG) one of the leading independent asset management companies in Germany after the creation of it subsidiary, African Development Corporation (ADC), on January 22, announced that it had set aside some €200million (305.4m) for investing into Rwanda’s financial sector.
The company bought 25 percent stake into the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) and acquired 70 percent of Simtel at $3.7million. Simtel is responsible for electronic payment systems in the country. ADC investment into the firm is expected to reach $10million in the near future.
The insurance sector marked the entry of Nigeria’s Industrial and General Insurance Plc (IGI). The company acquired 35 percent majority stake in Society Nouvelle d’Assurance du Rwanda (SONARWA), which is Rwanda’s biggest insurance company at $4 million.
The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) on November 15, 2008 announced that cabinet had approved Millicom as a preferred bidder for the third national telecommunication operator.
Millicom International Cellular S.A, a global telecommunications company, beat competition from Telecel Globe, Zain and Larrycom-Expresso.
The Luxemburg based company, has already entered into a joint venture partnership with Marathon Corporation, an established local company with numerous business interests in Rwanda.
Millicon cellular holds 87.5 percent of equity in the joint venture and the joint venture is expected to pay $60m for the 15 year fixed and mobile license.
In the telecom business, Rwandatel, the country’s oldest telecom switched from CDMA, phone technology which not card-enabled to GSM, allowing subscribers purchase sim cards and enjoy the liberties that come with sim card technology.
The infrastructure sector marked a very big achievement when 1.8megawatts of power was generated from methane gas and channeled to the national grid. So far, the power extracted from Lake Kivu said to be enough to supply the whole of Rubavu District.
The Rwanda Investment and Export Promotion Agency (Riepa), recently merged with other agencies to form the Rwanda Development Agency (RDA), rewarded 14 local importers and exporters.
The awards recognised the private sector’s role towards Rwanda’s economic development and of the 14 finalists Bralirwa and Gahaya Links emerged as overall winners in the investors and exporters respectively.
Meanwhile, Legatum, a privately owned international investment group and S.E.VEN a Social Equity Venture Fund in collaboration with On The Frontier (OTF) Group, a competitive consulting firm, also awarded best Small and Medium entrepreneurs (SMEs).
Ten companies were identified from across seven countries as finalists. Rwanda’s Gahaya Links was among winners who shared the $350,000 (Rwf192.2m) growth and strategic reinvestment fund.
In the same arrangements, Rwanda Information Technology Authority (RITA), also part of RDB, awarded companies who outclassed others in uplifting the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
Among others, Nyamata Teleservice Centre (NTC) received a “National awards of excellence in bridging the digital divide”.
The awards, which are in line with the National Information and Communication Infrastructure plan (NICI), recognised over 20 ICT companies, public, policy makers, technocrats, institutions of higher learning and civil society, that are influential in the progress achieved in the country’s ICT sector.
They were given to the companies from 16 categories such as ICT infrastructure, e-Agriculture, Internet Service Provider, e-tourism, business outsourcing, and e-education.
In August Rwandan coffee participated in the Cup of Excellence (CoE) competition aimed at promoting quality and marketing the cash crop. The event hosted in Rwanda was the first in the country and the continent at large.
It attracted 125 coffees for the pre-selection phase, where 50 coffees remained for the national jury level while only 24 samples met the international coffee quality standards and were rewarded the esteemed award. Multi-sector Investment Group Ltd (MIG) was the overall winner.
The finalists were therefore guaranteed involvement in the on-line auction, which attracted international bidders. In the auctioning, Rwandan coffee scored a record $39.7 (Frw21,865) per kg.
Owing from this success, Rwanda Coffee Development Authority (Ocir-Café) announced hosting the regional fine coffees conference and exhibition come February next year.
Giant stores open-up
This year saw giant departmental stores opening up in Kigali city. The two stores offer a wide range of foods beverage, toiletries, electronics and furniture on sale.
Nakumatt Holdings from Kenya took a first step in its East African expansion plan with its first $ 3m investment at the trade Union Trade Center. The outlet covers a shopping floor space of more than 25,000 square feet.
The opening of Nakumatt was after a local entrepreneur, Charles Gasana, unveiled his Frw1.6 billion supermarket at Centenary House in the city centre.