The European Investment Bank and the I&M bank on Tuesday signed a deal that will see Rwandan small businesses benefit from EUR8 million under the new lending programme for Small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s).
This is the second new small business lending programme between the European Investment Bank and I&M Bank Rwanda in seven years. Previously the EIB floated $3 billion.
The agreement was signed by Sanjeev Anand, Managing Director of I&M Bank Rwanda and Kurt Simonsen, Head of the European Investment Bank’s regional representation for East and Central Africa.
Simonsen said that the I&M bank has proved to be a good and trusted partner over the years and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is confident that the funding will enable Rwandans to attain their economic development strategies.
“We are very proud to work with I&M, who have been using the funding appropriately to facilitate economic development in this country. We are very sure that this money will reach the rightful owners and be used well” he said.
Managing Director, Sanjeev Anand explained that the SME and corporate sector forms the most important part of I&M Bank’s strategy in Rwanda and that the long-term financing lines provided by EIB will go a long way in facilitating efforts to provide investment support to SMEs.
Over the years, the European Investment Bank has extended five small business focused credit lines for a total amount of EUR 31 million to Banque Rwandaise de Développement, Bank of Kigali, and I&M Bank Rwanda Ltd.
The funds have helped to develop more than 100 SMEs and created more than 1, 250 jobs in the private sector in Rwanda. In addition to supporting small and medium sized companies in the country.
The European Investment Bank has signed a credit line with Kenya Commercial Bank to support microfinance and intends to broaden support for private sector investment in Rwanda in the future.
A group of investors from the Czech Republic are set to invest in a range of businesses in the country.
The 30-member delegation led by Jan Kohout, the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, was in the country last week as they explored potential areas of investment in the country.
During their visit, the group visited Rwanda Development Board (RDB) where they were assured of an enabling business environment in Rwanda.
The group, which also had a business meeting last Tuesday with several government officials and the Rwanda business community, is interested in investing in the a variety of areas, including: agriculture, services, manufacturing, energy, import and export promotion, and aviation.
“We have chosen Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Ghana as our economic missions in Africa and I am optimistic that our business community will find various investment opportunities in these countries,” said Kohout in the meeting.
He added that the objective of coming to explore potential areas of investment in the country is due to the fact that Rwanda offers potential business opportunities since the country has continued to perform well in World Bank ‘Doing Business’ reports.
Borivoj Minar, a member of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, said that although it was their first time in Rwanda, they have developed a strong feeling of establishing businesses in Rwanda after holding meetings with government officials about various business opportunities.
“We are looking forward to partner with Rwanda towards promoting trade, innovation and entrepreneurship between the two countries,” Minar said.
RDB Chief Operations Officer (COO), Claire Akamanzi, said that Czech investors are looking to African markets where growth is high, and Rwanda was chosen as one of their destinations.
“Many countries are choosing our country as a potential area of investment and this shows that Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. We are happy about that and ready to offer them a conducive environment that will enable them to efficiently and effectively do their respective businesses in Rwanda,” Akamanzi said.
She said that RDB will continue working together with the Czech chamber of commerce in order allow many investors from the Czech Republic to come and invest in Rwanda.
“Although we haven’t done much with Czech Republic in terms of investments, the coming of such investors shows the beginning of their business journey with Rwanda,” Akamanzi said.
The group also toured Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) which the government put aside as place for industrial zone for the national and foreign investors.
Statistics indicate that RDB registered investments worth $1.2 billion (about Frw 800 billion) between January and June this year.
The investments represent 58 domestic projects, worth $ 509.1 million, 22 foreign projects, worth $406.9m, and nine joint ventures worth $338.1 million.
While talking to the visiting delegation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba said: “Our economy has responded considerably well to business reforms, we have grown at an average rate of about 8 per cent over the last decade and we welcome you to Rwanda to explore areas of your business interests,”
According to 2013 Baseline Profitability Index by the Foreign Policy Magazine, Rwanda was ranked fifth-best destination for investment in the world out of 102 countries surveyed. The global study indicated that high returns of investment are accessible and to a great degree, retrievable to investors in Rwanda.
The 2013World Bank Doing Business Report also ranked Rwanda the third easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Mauritius and South Africa.
About twenty years after the tragedy of 1994, about 1,500 elderly genocide survivors from around the country are still either homeless or living in poor, unsatisfactory conditions. The government, through the Genocide survivors fund (FARG), says it is ready to build houses for the homeless and to rehabilitate those which are in critical conditions.
The program groups elders together, in order to facilitate their supervision regarding their living conditions, their health, and their assistance in general for a better, less lonely living style.
In order to make this feasible, Theophile Ruberangeyo, the executive secretary of FARG, says they are thinking of constructing and rehabilitating shared, group.
“These elders suffer from loneliness and lack of care, but if they are somehow together, they will interact each other and it is very easy to be aware of their neighbors’ problems”, he said. Apart from being old aged, some of these widows have other health problems like disabilities, and these should also get special care.
Local leaders, through a video-conference last week, expressed worries that the given budget is not enough to make sure that the houses are sustainable.
For instance, 944 houses slated for rehabilitation were allocated Frw 300 million, a small amount for so many houses. However, Ruberangeyo assured that there is a plan to have the budget increased in the upcoming budget revision.
Some districts, like Gisagara, have already adopted the plan. Leandre Karekezi, the mayor of Gisagara district, says that once the elders were living close to one another, it was easy to protect and care for them.
“There even some activities that they can do if they are together. They feel somehow not alone as they could feel if everyone is in his or her own house”, he said.
Inkeragutabara will build the houses, and most of districts have already signed contracts with them. Districts that have not yet signed contracts are requested to do it as soon as possible in order to have all activities starting in all districts.
James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, appreciated the initiative, arguing that it will help in making sure that these elders are well assisted. He suggested that there be a social worker hired to supervise these elders, providing services like counseling, among others.
According to suggestions from local leaders, each house will accommodate four or five widows. The Minister requested that the FARG establish an overall design of these houses in order to start the construction.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are considering building a superhighway from Mombasa to Kigali, parallel to the planned railway.
According to regional trade lobby organization Trademark East Africa, which will be facilitating the project, it is expected to have a six-lane road, with construction beginning in 2016.
Inspired by the N1 highway that runs from Cape Town in South Africa to Harare in Zimbabwe, the proposed road is intended to ease the movement of cargo, thereby reducing the cost of doing business and increasing intra-regional trade.
Expenditure on transport in the EAC countries accounts for 45% of the total cost of goods. This is 30% higher than in Southern Africa, making commodities produced in the region uncompetitive.
John Byabagambi, Uganda’s Junior Minister for Works who is chairing the Standard Gauge Railway Committee, said that Trademark was doing feasibility studies for a dual carriage highway that forms part of plans to expand the Northern Corridor, as the current single carriage system is too narrow and fraught with inefficiencies.
Allen Asiimwe of Trademark East Africa said the superhighway would have no weighbridges or roadblocks.
This means that once the goods are loaded onto a truck at the Port of Mombasa, there will be no stops until the final destination. Weighbridges and roadblocks are among major hindrances to trade in the region.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Asiimwe added that the road, the ability of the revenue authorities of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to acquire the latest software known as Automated Systems for Customs Data (Asycuda), plus a $50 million investment in the port of Mombasa, will ensure that cargo moves fast and that it is constantly monitored.
“Investment in a regional asset like the Mombasa port will reduce the time for clearing goods from 18 to five days,” she said.
The software enables Customs officials from the three countries to use the electronic tracking system to monitor the trucks.
The software will also boost the EAC Customs Union since revenue authorities will be able to assess and collect taxes at the first point of entry. This means that once a trader has paid his taxes for goods bound for Uganda, there will be no need to pay a refundable bond to Kenya. This has been the practice, due to the fear that goods could be dumped in Kenya.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Experts warn that intra-EAC trade is well below the standards of any functional common market.
“Intra-regional trade should account for at least 25% of the total trade volumes in any functional common market,” said Rashid Kibowa, Commissioner for Economic Affairs in Uganda’s Ministry of East African Community Affairs.
In the European Union, intra-regional trade accounts for 55% of total trade while it stands at 40% in the US.
Copyright : StarAfrica
A Turkish construction firm-Babil Group of Companies, is set to start a football academy in Rwanda.
The Academy is meant to help nurture a generation of talented players. According to Mustafa Cem, who is the company’s head of international development, he wants to nurture a young and exciting generation of football stars, who have the right exposure to the soccer world . “Because of my love and passion for the game,he added, I have decided to set up an academy because I don’t want to see the youth being idle. By setting such an Academy, would make a huge impact as far as development of Rwandan football is concerned.”
He said his main desire is to see Rwandan players among top cream on the African continent adding that he believes Rwanda is capable of producing top-level footballers.
He added that their target is to play a part in the development of Rwandan football and sports in general.
Recently, Babil Group of Companies and Rwanda Football Federation reached an agreement to sponsor the inaugural Super Cup.
The inaugural Super Cup match will pit Primus league champions Rayon Sports and Peace Cup winners AS Kigali on September 1 at Amahoro national stadium in Kigali.
IT started like any other day. Maina woke up and headed to class. The then senior four student concluded the day with a jog at the school’s play ground. As she went through the drills, she was summoned by the school cricket coach to join the rest of the team. Efforts to explain her self that she had never held a bat or played cricket fell on deaf ears.
“I was exercising in the school field; the girl’s cricket team coach mistook me for a cricket player. He called me to join the team, when I tried to explain to him that I was not a player he insisted and that is how I became a cricketer,” Mary Maina narrates.
This is how one of Rwanda’s best female cricketers ended up building a passionate bond with the game of cricket. Mary Maina represents the cream of female cricketers who hold the future of women cricket in Rwanda.
With the upcoming ‘UAE Exchange Money Express’ Women Cricket Tournament, it will be yet another opportunity for the female cricketers to showcase talent. Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi talked to Maina, who plays for the ‘White Clouds Cricket Club’ and Cathia Uwamahoro, a member of Charity Club, to talk about the sport, how it has gained popularity in Rwanda, their inspirations and the challenges they have faced.
Born on September 17, 1992 in Kenya, Maina started playing cricket in 2010 while at APRED Ndera Secondary School.
She says she has strong love for the sport. “I treasure this game and always reflect on the circumstances under which I joined the sport. I actually trained for three days with the school team and was instantly picked to be the captain of the team during the inter-schools competition. I encountered several challenges because I started playing the sport without knowing all the rules of the game. In other words, I learnt most of the rules of the game in the field during the inter-schools tournament.”
She says that at first she was also scared of the cricket ball given the fact that it’s very hard.
“I didn’t even know the history of the game as the captain of the team but it’s the cricket ball that always freaked me out. I always thought that if it hit me, it would cause great injury and it’s funny because in a few moments it hit me but I got minor injuries and that didn’t make me quit the sport,” Maina reveals.
She adds that being part of the U19 National Team that represented the country in Tanzania in 2011 inspired her into embracing the sport even more.
“I was happy about the trip and the game and I got to learn a lot from the 2011 tournament. But I am grateful to the local companies that have empowered us and introduced local tournaments for the women cricketers. This has greatly improved our skills in the sport,” Maina acknowledges.
Besides the inter-schools competitions that are held annually, the first female tournament was held in February 2013 under the name VR Naidu because it was sponsored by an Indian family known as Naidu. The White Clouds Club are the defending champions.
In September 2013, Maina is enrolling at the National University of Rwanda to pursue a Bachelor’s course in Pharmacy.
“As a child I always wanted to be a doctor to closely work with people and impact on their lives. Although I’m not going to offer medicine, I will ably serve people as a pharmacist. I will also continue playing cricket at university. I would also wish to encourage more girls to join cricket. It’s a gentle game and it’s the only game in sports where your opponent is your friend, even though you’re competing. Respect is encouraged all the time,” Maina reveals.
She continues, “The girls should not be scared of the bat because it is made of hard wood or that the ball is hard too. Cricket is very exciting.”
Currently there are about ten schools in Rwanda that have fully established the female cricket teams and six of these schools are based in Kigali.
Uwamahoro was also introduced to the sport in 2008 at the age of fifteen.
“I used to watch cricket on television and I didn’t understand what it was but one day I got to see people training at our school in Gikondo and I sat down and watched. I did this often and one day the coach asked me if I wanted to join and I accepted although I was a basketball player at the time,” Uwamahoro narrates.
She adds that she quit basketball to play cricket.
“Because of the love I gradually attained for cricket, I learnt the rules of the game pretty fast and I was able to play for the U19 National Team in Kenya in 2008. I was also able to play in 2010 and 2011 in Tanzania and I learnt a lot and gained more skills in all these region tournaments,” Uwamahoro explains.
She adds, “At first I didn’t like fielding because I was afraid of the ball hitting me but with time, I over came my fears and I can now field, bat and ball because it’s required as a team player.”
She reveals that her favourite local player is Andre Kayitera and internationally, she is inspired by the cricket legend Brian Lala.
Charles Haba, the President of the Rwanda Cricket Association, says that in Rwanda, cricket was first embraced in December 1999.
“We aggressively embarked on training female cricket players in 2006 and several women development programmes in the sport were embraced. We have taken on these programmes mainly through schools but also additionally we have started a women’s league. There are not many countries that have a structured women’s league,” Haba reveals.
Rwanda Cricket Association, the official cricket governing body in Rwanda, is a representative at the International Cricket Council and is an affiliate member. It attained its membership in 2003.
“Something else that is a bit unique is that every tournament that we have held, we have played a double-header for the girls. Basically what it means is that parallel to the boys competition, we have the women’s tournament and that applies even when we are going to seek sponsorship or during corporate events. This has had a positive impact on the women cricket teams.”
He adds that before, girls would go for the regional cricket women competitions and play well but as a result of lack of exposure, lose to different teams.
“Our biggest challenge is the lack of facilities because we have one main ground therefore we have to use it for both the women and men’s tournaments. The other challenges are not really big and we are happy that the girls love cricket,” Haba discloses.
He continues, “There is need to encourage women and girls to embrace cricket. Something I have learnt in cricket is that girls are not as demanding as the boys, yet the levels of output and levels of success come out quicker than the boys. I will give you practical examples of the fantastic experiences we have encountered with the girls. The boys tend to ask for so much because they are so hungry for overnight success and want to be professionals in the shortest time but the girls will just want to pick up the bat and the ball to go and play. They are always happy to wait for their opportunity to play, without letting the little challenges affect them.”
There are currently four established women cricket teams/clubs in Rwanda; Queens of Victory, Kigali Angels, Charity and White Clouds.
Eric Hirwa, the Cricket Female National Team coach, says that in the earlier days, the girls’ main challenge was their parents granting them permission to play cricket. But that is gradually changing.
“With the development of the sport and the popularity it has gained, we now encounter a few situations or no situations at all where a parent has refused a player to come for training. When the girls master the game, after a few months they make it a point to come for regular training. However transport from their home to the training grounds is the main challenge they currently face,” Hirwa explains.
He encourages parents to let their girls come for training since it helps them improve their skills.
“We currently have about 30-60 girls that can actually attend regional competitions. They are about 15-20 years old and most of them are students. It’s also amazing how the girls learn the game so fast and become very passionate about it. It’s always important for someone to first love the game to actually perfect their skills in the sport,” Hirwa reveals.
According to Hirwa, female cricket teams train every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm in Kicukiro.
Fitch Ratings revised Rwanda’s Outlook to ‘Positive’ from ‘Stable’ while simultaneously affirming Rwanda’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ and short-term foreign currency IDR at ‘B’. Fitch has also affirmed Rwanda’s Country Ceiling at ‘B’.
According to Fitch ratings, the revision of the outlook from stable to positive reflects continuing rapid and inclusive GDP growth in the future, high governance standards relative to regional peers, marked improvements in poverty reduction that attracted high levels of international support, and low public and external debt.
A sovereign rating indicates the rating agency’s opinion of a country’s credit worthiness, or in other words ability and willingness to meet its financial obligations in timely manner. Credit ratings, as opinions on vulnerability to default, do not necessarily imply a specific likelihood of a country’s defaulting on its payment.
This year’s rating is the fourth following the first in 2006, the second in 2010 and the third in 2011. At ‘B’, Rwanda’s rating is within the range of regional countries. A ‘Positive” outlook may imply to a certain extent possibility of rating upgrade provided continued positive trends in factors that triggered the upgrade in the outlook.
The United States has praised the government of Rwanda for its tremendous strides in improving the lives of Rwandans by increasing the rate of life expectancy for its citizens and reducing the maternal mortality.
Speaking at the Africa Health Forum in Washington DC on Friday, the US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns said that the country is on track to meet many of the Millenium Development goals despite challenges the country faced after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
In his key note address, the Deputy Secretary of state said that: “Rwanda, a country devastated by genocide less than two decades ago, is today on track to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals – life expectancy has doubled, maternal mortality and annual child deaths more than halved, and deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria have dropped by 80percent.”
The US diplomat went on to thank the current African leadership for the dramatic transformation of the continent.
“We gather here today amidst a dramatic transformation of the African continent from a region once defined largely by its problems, to a region defined increasingly by its possibilities… from a region afflicted by conflict, crisis, and impoverishment to a region known more and more for its economic growth, expanding democratic governance, and enhanced health and human development,” said William J. Burns.
He emphasized that as the continent evolves, and as governments take on greater leadership and responsibility for their own future, the nature of assistance and cooperation from the international community should evolve as well – from a donor-recipient relationship to more of a partnership.
“This partnership – based on principles of country ownership, shared responsibility, and mutual respect – allows donors and partner countries to better meet the needs of the country’s population. Where transparency, good governance, and accountability are enshrined in law and in practice – our joint investments will yield more effective, more efficient, and ultimately more sustainable outcomes.
This is why sustainability and shared responsibility are two foundational principles of President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development and our global health diplomacy strategy.”
The US Deputy secretary of State told delegates that United States commitment to global health is strong, citing President Obama’s budget request for a $1.65 billion contribution to the Global Fund in fiscal year 2014 as US’s historically high level of support.
The Forum was attended by Ministers and representatives of Ministries of Finance and Health over two dozen African countries.
Rwanda is globally hailed for presenting a unique case in development and in the progress towards attaining the MDGs.
Rwanda’s debut in the Eurobond market will offer investors the rare opportunity to buy into one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa – but don’t expect the country to get carried away.
The sub-benchmark size of the trade, combined with the country’s strong dependence on foreign aid and volatile sectors of the economy, will see some buyers take a step back and demand a reasonable premium to get involved.
The East African sovereign, rated B/B, will wrap up investor meetings for its planned US$400m 10-year bond sale next Wednesday, after conducting a one-week roadshow in Asia, Europe and the US through BNP Paribas and Citigroup.
The last Eurobond issue from the continent, Zambia’s 5.375% US$750m 10-year note offering, generated an order book of US$12bn when it was issued in September, pricing through the curves of the country’s regional peers.
While Rwanda is unlikely to replicate that success, a shortage of African paper in the market will generate strong interest among yield-starved investors.
Despite a US$50m increase from the originally targeted US$350m, Rwanda’s transaction will fall short of the US$500m minimum required for inclusion in global emerging market indices, reducing the notes’ potential buyer base and limiting their liquidity in the secondary market.
“The sub-benchmark size is a problem because it means there is no automatic demand from index followers,” said Graham Stock, chief strategist at Insparo Asset Management. “It is a market distortion created by the importance of the index, but it can’t be ignored.”
Borrowing more for the sole purpose of joining the index league, however, would make little sense for a country with annual GDP of US$6.4bn. “It would be risky for the government of a small economy to borrow more than it needs and thereby increase debt service costs and refinancing risks just to qualify for the benchmark,” said Stock.
While Rwanda’s growth story is compelling – real GDP growth averaged 7.4% between 2003 and 2011 – the country relies on foreign aid to finance almost 40% of its budget. Subsistence agriculture accounts for one-third of annual GDP, employing 73% of the labour force.
Eyeing a 7% yield
In light of these challenges, a syndicate official away from the deal reckons investors are likely to demand a yield of around 7% to buy the new notes. “I see a definite floor of 6%, on top of which you need to add a new issue premium and [an additional concession for] non-index eligibility,” said the banker.
“I think the premium for the size will be significant. A pricing [of] circa 7% is not far-fetched,” said a London-based portfolio manager who specialises in African markets.
He suggested, however, that the rarity value of the name could push the yield even lower. “I would go tighter, between 6.5% and 6.75%, mainly because of the appetite for Eurobonds from the region and current yield levels for SSA names,” he added.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay outstanding loans and finance the completion of the Kigali Convention Centre and the Nyabarongo hydro power plant.