5 January 2014

Rwanda: 2013 Deals That Will Shape Business in 2014

In 2013 several multi-million dollar deals, with potential to turn round the country's economic fortunes, were sealed across all sectors such as finance and banking, energy, transport and real estate and aviation. The Sunday Times' Collins Mwai and Peterson Tumwebaze dug up the archives and revisited some of the deals sealed during the year just ended with significant impact on business and economy this year and beyond.


During the first quarter of the year, the country ventured into the international finance market by issuing Rwanda's first sovereign bond.

The proceeds from the over-subscribed $400 million bond, have been used to retire a debt of $200m used to support RwandAir and the ongoing construction of \ Kigali Convention Centre. The estimated $300 million complex in Kimihurura is already taking shape with some $150m from the 10-year sovereign bond set aside for its completion.

The complex will have a 292-room five-star hotel, a 2,600 seat conference hall, a museum and 24,000 square meters of office and shopping space.

And with $50 million from the same bond reserved for the 28MW Nyabarongo hydro-power plant, this deal stands out as one whose impact on the economy will be felt as more electricity is added on the national grid and expanding the hospitality industry.

Rusumo Hydro Power:

Talking about electricity, the World Bank in August approved a $340m development investment loan for Rusumo Falls hydroelectric plant for Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania. The 80-MW dam on the Rwanda-Tanzania border of the Kagera River will boost the regional electricity supply as well as improve regional accessibility.

Peat energy:

In July last year, the government signed a $371 million (about Rwf241 billion) energy agreement with an Indian company, Punj Lloyd, to generate 100MW of electricity from peat in the Eastern Province. The deal is handy as the country moves to generate 215MW of peat energy by 2017, but there are prospects to produce up to 700MW.

City transport:

In August, The Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority and the City of Kigali awarded three firms, including a cooperatives, a deal to operate public transport in the city.

The firms that won the five-year transport deal were Kigali Bus Service (KBS), Rwanda Federation of Transport Cooperative (RFTC) and Royal Express.

The new public transport system came into force across the City of Kigali at end of August las year. As part of the deal, the transport companies were be expected to bring in more and good quality buses, according to specifications, so as to ensure that no passenger spends more than five minutes at a bus stop.

Actis quits BCR:

A consortium led by Kenyan lender I&M Bank and comprising two European banks acquired 80 per cent stake in the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR) that was previously held by British equity investor, Actis.

Actis had acquired the stake from the government in 2004 through the privatisation process. Rwanda government still holds 20 per cent stake in the bank.

The deal brings opportunities in the areas of intermediating regional trade and investment flows, cross-border payment and money-transfer systems, e-Commerce and Card areas, management says.

Micro Africa sold:

Still in the finance sector, Botswana-based Letshego Holdings bought Micro Africa Limited, the mother company of Rwanda Microfinance. The 100 per cent buyout saw Rwanda Microfinance rebranded to Letshego Rwanda Limited and announced plans boost lending to customers.

Fina Bank:

Nigerian lender, Guaranty Trust bank acquired a 70 per cent stake in Fina Bank, a Kenyan bank with operations in Rwanda.

The $100m deal was finalised in December and is expected to benefit clients in terms of products available and service delivery. It also increases the presence of western Africa banks in the East African region.

$33m aircraft:

In April, RwandAir, placed an order for the purchase a new Q400 NextGen turboprop airliner from Canadian manufacturers, Bombardier Aerospace to fly the national carrier's expanding regional routes.

The $33 millionplane is the second the national carrier has purchased from the Canadian aircraft maker. The 67-seat aircraft will ensure RwandAir is well positioned to offer increased capacity on popular routes that are being opened, management said.

Kigali Heights:

A Kenyan equity firm, Fusion Capital partnered with Kigali Heights, a local real estate developer, to build a $34 million shopping complex in Kimihurura.

Construction of the mega commercial plaza kicked off in December and adds to the changing skyline of the city in that area. Upon completion, it will house large shopping arcades and executive offices.

Rusororo Aggregate:

Still in the construction sector, Fusion capital acquired 46.5 per cent equity stake in Rusororo Aggregate Limited, the first commercial large scale aggregate mining company in Rwanda.

The deal, worth $2m is set to help Rusororo Aggregate to improve its production processes, marketing and transportation of its products. The acquisition of Rusororo is also set to boost the country's construction sector, which is expected to record significant growth over the coming years.

Buffett Fund:

The government of Rwanda and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation in December signed a$3.7m (about Rwf2.5b) grant to support Strategic Capacity Building Initiative, the flagship development program for strengthening government institutions.

The vision to transform the country into a knowledge and service based economy, requires massive investments in capacity building with focus not only on formal education, but also technical and vocational training.

Howard G. Buffet, chairman and CEO of the Howard G. Buffet Foundation acknowledged that Rwanda's development successes can be attributed to its aid effectiveness and its investments in government and institutions.

MTN sells masts:

IHS Holding, Africa's largest independent mobile infrastructure company, in 2013 purchased all 524 MTN towers in Rwanda for an undisclosed fee.

According to MTN Rwanda officials, the sale was aimed at improving efficiency in property management. The sale was a culmination of a long negotiation process with agreement dating back to December 2012.

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