4 October 2017

Rwanda: Public Agencies Join Hands to Fight Illegal Forex Market

Photo: New Times
A forex bureau in downtown Kigali.

Three public agencies have teamed up to tackle the growing black market forex operations in Kigali.

The new coalition comprises the central bank, Rwanda National Police and the Local Government ministry, according to officials.

The partnership comes amid widespread concerns over the growing black market operators in the forex business in different parts of the country.

The New Times recently highlighted how the operators were thriving in the city.

The recent increase in operations has been partly blamed on the tightening of regulations in the sector, which forced out small operators and led them to operate illegally.

Central bank governor John Rwangombwa said the inter-agency partnership will activate operations to rid the city of black market traders as well as sensitise them to form associations.

He said there is some black market activity at the moment but downplayed it as 'not that big a threat'.

"The stability of the market we see today gives us confidence that the problem is not big," he said.

Rwangombwa said black market operations are often successful in instances where there is shortage of foreign exchange among registered operators.

The central bank injects about $5 million weekly to support demand from international trade.

"Black markets are often successful where we have a shortage of foreign exchange in the formal set up, we do not see that in our market today, we sell dollars in the market to support the demand of international trade," he said.

The New Times has also learnt that beyond 'small scale' black market operators, who are common at border points and in the capital Kigali, there are also large scale operators who often deal with corporations and business people to change large sums of money.

These larger scale operations often thrive due to lack of capacity and flexibility by banks of facilitate currency change, especially of large volumes of money at negotiable rates.

Police say that they are working with stakeholders to enforce the law. In a recent interview with this paper, Police spokesperson Theos Badege called on the public to report such cases.

"We work closely with the central bank and the licensed forex bureaus to protect our currency. Law enforcement operations have been focusing on Kigali city, especially around the old post office area, and at major border points. We urge the public to report such malpractices," he said.

City of Kigali spokesperson Bruno Rangira added that such illegal operators in Kigali and their clients will face arrest just like hawkers in the city.

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