KCB opens new subsidiary in Rwanda after merger

KCB Group is banking on its new subsidiary BPR Bank Plc Rwanda to more than double its regional business in the next two years and support economic expansion in the East African country.

KCB said scaling its regional business was critical for the future, adding that it will bolster its investments in Rwanda. The lender is currently eyeing the newest member of the East African Community – the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This, said KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara, will also see the bank invest significantly to support the key economic sectors like housing, agriculture, and hospitality.

The lender merged KCB Bank Rwanda with its newly acquired Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) to form BPR Bank Rwanda Plc last month.

“We are delighted with the possibilities that lay ahead, as this integration has enabled us to buttress our leadership position, giving us a stronger edge to play a bigger role in driving the financial inclusion agenda in East Africa, while building a robust and financially sustainable organisation,” said Mr Oigara during the unveiling of BPR Bank in Kigali on Wednesday.

BPR is now the second-largest lender in Rwanda, following the merger, giving KCB a stronger edge in deepening its corporate and retail banking in the country.

“We want to revolutionise the way we do business, guaranteeing ultimate satisfaction to our esteemed customers, as they interact with us,” Mr Oigara added.

Central Bank of Kenya Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge said central banks across the region are in the process of harmonising critical policies to facilitate the attainment of a single currency by 2024.

This process, he said, is ongoing and will lead to convergence of regulatory frameworks across the region with a view to reducing transaction costs and allowing seamless transactions across the region.

“As a Central Bank, our vision is to build an industry that works for all East Africans. As such, the new entity BPR Rwanda is a step in the right direction,” he said.

He challenged regional banks to commit more resources to the regional integration agenda which has huge financing needs.

“A lot more needs to be done to meet financing needs in the region such as infrastructure, manufacturing, and greening our economy. This can only be enhanced by integration (financial) and consolidation…” Dr Njoroge said.

BPR Bank will have a range of debit and credit cards to simplify payments for its customers, a service it launched in Kigali on Wednesday.

BPR Bank Rwanda has an asset base of Rwf648 billion ($632 million) and a network of 154 branches, after Bank of Kigali, the biggest local bank.

Figures by the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), the country’s central bank, show the banking sector remains profitable with earnings increasing by 53.6 percent to Rwf125.5 billion ($122 million) in 2021.

The banking sector assets grew by 17.5 percent to Rwf5,064 billion ($4.9 billion) last year, mainly driven by the growth of deposits, capital injections, and profits.

The country’s financial sector, however, remains highly concentrated as banks account for about 67.2 percent of total financial services assets, according to figures by the central bank.

Foreign-owned banks in Rwanda hold 46.7 percent of total banking sector assets.

Analysts say the merger will stimulate stiff competition in Rwanda’s banking sector as the existing banks fight to retain and expand their market share.

“We are excited to see this milestone come through. These two organisations have the right synergies to come together and succeed, especially in this market where there is a need to provide various products and services to our young population to foster not only economic development but also improve quality of life for the population,” said Dr Édouard Ngirente, Rwanda Prime Minister, while officiating the event.

KCB has subsidiaries in Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi as well as a representative office in Ethiopia.

KCB Group’s net profit for 2021 jumped 74 percent to Ksh34.2 billion ($300 million) from Ksh19.6 billion ($171.92 million) in 2020, driven by higher revenues from trading operations and by over 50 percent reduction in loan loss provisions.

The KCB subsidiaries, including the National Bank of Kenya which was acquired by KCB in 2019, doubled their total contribution to the Group’s net profit to $47.32 million from $24.1 million, for the full year ending December 31, 2021.

Orginal Article Link: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/business/kcb-opens-new-subsidiary-in-rwanda-after-merger-3804214

$350 million in funding for farmers’ climate resilience

The government of Rwanda has announced the release of $350 million to support farmers' resilience to climate change. The funding will be used to purchase modern crop irrigation technologies.

The $350 million in funding will be provided in the form of “affordable” loans to farmers in Rwanda. The Rwandan government, which initiated the project, will receive financial support from the World Bank.

According to the Rwandan authorities, the funds will be released in the second half of 2022. The funds will be used to purchase seeds and fertilisers, as well as modern irrigation technology.

Doubling agricultural lending by 2024

Among the effects of climate change is drought, which dries up the rivers and reservoirs that people depend on for their daily activities. In addition to strengthening the climatic resilience of farmers, the challenge today is to rationalise the available resource.

These projects contribute to increasing agricultural yields to reduce food insecurity and boost exports. In Rwanda, the agricultural sector accounts for about a third of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employs nearly 70% of its workforce. In 2021, agricultural exports generated more than $543 million, compared to more than $390 million in 2020, an increase of 39%, according to statistics published in February 2022 by the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB).

The Rwandan government’s target for 2024 is to double lending to the agricultural sector to 10.4%. To date, the sector receives just 5.2% of total loans disbursed by Rwanda’s financial institutions. “As they repay the loans, the fund will become sustainable and ensure continuity of funding for agriculture,” says Rwandan Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.

The project comes as the Rwandan government implements its $2.5 billion national climate plan. In the area of agriculture, it includes a solar water pumping project to irrigate farmland. The solar pumps will replace diesel pumps. This will reduce the CO2 emissions that cause climate change and improve food security.

Orginal Article Link: https://www.afrik21.africa/en/rwanda-350-million-in-funding-for-farmers-climate-resilience/

Kenyan fintech Asante announces $7.5m Series A funding for pan-African expansion

Kenya-based fintech startup Asante has announced a US$7.5 million Series A investment to help its credit offerings to a host of African countries.

Asante has developed a digital lending platform that uses alternative data and a proprietary AI loan decisioning management system to approve loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The company works directly with ecosystem channel partners, including telcos, mobile-based marketplaces, airlines, retailers, payment processors, insurance companies, smartphone phone OEMs and large FMCGs, to collect conventional and non-conventional MSME data, with the prior consent of the clients, in order to reduce the cost of customer acquisition and due diligence while providing sufficient alternative data for credit underwriting.

Asante has executed over 16 strategic corporate channel partnerships, giving Asante direct access to 2m MSMEs with a monthly lending opportunity in excess of US$200 million. Incorporated in Mauritius, Asante has grown exponentially since it commenced operations in 2018, and now operates in Kenya and Uganda.

The startup has active plans to be in 12 countries by 2025, and looks set to realise part of that goal after announcing a US$7.5 million Series A round anchored by Goodwell Investments with participation by other investors including Sorenson Impact Foundation and Forsage Holdings.

The Series A investment enables Asante to scale its credit offerings to the underserved segment of MSMEs in Kenya and Uganda, and expand to Nigeria and Rwanda.

“We are delighted to welcome our new investors including Goodwell, Sorenson and Forsage in our inaugural institutional fundraise. Together, we will advance access to finance, and financial independence and wellbeing for the millions of small businesses on the continent,” said Chidi Okpala, founding chief executive officer (CEO) of Asante.

“With over 650 per cent growth in lending activities since Q1 2021 and a sustained average all-in default rate of 2.5 per cent, Asante is well-positioned to fast track scale and deepen our impact in our operating markets. Our bold post-COVID response is helping small businesses recover, reconstruct and reposition for growth while ensuring that thousands of jobs are safeguarded. We look forward to a round extension very early in the new year to support the solid growth momentum.”

Orginal Article Link: https://disrupt-africa.com/2021/10/20/kenyan-fintech-asante-announces-7-5m-series-a-funding-for-pan-african-expansion/

Rwanda, Luxembourg pact to boost financial centre ambitions

Kigali International Financial Centre development ambitions received a boost this week as Rwanda and Luxembourg signed a bilateral cooperation agreement with the aim to support Rwanda in further developing the financial Centre (KIFC).

The pact was signed by Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of Rwanda and Honorable Franz Fayot, Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, of Luxembourg on the sidelines of Africa Microfinance Week, underway in Kigali.

The pact will among other things see support to develop Kigali International Financial Centre and benefit from the expertise of Luxembourg’s financial ecosystem.

Strategic areas of cooperation defined in the agreement include; capacity building and talent development; development of sustainable finance in Rwanda; enabling a fintech ecosystem in Rwanda; and setting up a marketplace for impact investing in Rwanda.

Ndagijimana said that following the establishment of KIFC to increase the value addition of the financial services in the Rwandan economy it holds opportunities to expand investments from Rwanda to Africa and beyond.

“The partnership milestone that we’ve just signed will support our ambition of becoming a preferred Pan-African International Financial Centre which is in line with our aspiration of becoming a middle-income country by 2035 and a high-income country by 2050,” he said.

The Luxembourgish Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Franz Fayot said that Rwanda's interest in sustainable finance and fintech is also a priority for the European Country.

“It is important that we build together and channel more finance in development cooperation, combating climate change and other areas that require financing,” he said.

The implementing agencies are Rwanda Finance Limited, the agency tasked with developing Kigali International Financial Centre and Lux-Development S.A., Luxembourg’s development cooperation agency.

Nick Barigye, the Chief Executive of Rwanda Finance Limited (RFL), the agency mandated to promote the KIFC noted said that becoming a preferred centre for international investments in Africa requires strategic partnerships

“Today we welcome the opportunity to draw on the expertise of Luxembourg’s financial ecosystem, to further develop Kigali International Financial Centre’s niche areas in sustainable finance and fintech. Upskilling financial sector professionals to efficiently serve global investors and financial institutions is a key feature of an attractive financial services hub and one of the pillars KIFC is looking to strengthen, through our cooperation with Luxembourg,” he said.

Kigali International Financial Centre in September made its debut on the GlobalFinancial Centres Index (GFCI), a renowned ranking on the competitiveness of financial centres across the world.

The index rates 116 financial centres across the world combining assessments from financial professionals with quantitative data which form instrumental factors.

Kigali International Financial Centre was also mentioned among the top centres likely to become more significant going forward as well as among centres enjoying reputational advantage.

During its slightly over one year of operations, Kigali International Financial Centre has attracted a number of investors and members ranging from social impact investors, Angel Investors, investment companies, financial services providers, Corporate Services Providers among others.

Rwanda Finance Limited has also overseen major reforms in the laws to improve the attractiveness of the local system to local and international capital.

Orginal Article Link: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/rwanda-luxembourg-pact-boost-financial-centre-ambitions

Caltex Starts Manufacturing Local Lubricants In Kenya:

FAL Manufacturing Limited (AML), which is owned by Tristar Group, has officially launched the local manufacturing of Caltex lubricants in East Africa a month after signing a license agreement with Chevron Brands International LLC to produce, distribute and market Caltex lubricants in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 

Tristar Group CEO Eugene Mayne, who spoke during the launch, said that local manufacturing will add value to enable the firm to take the Caltex lubricants brand to a strong market position by supplying high-quality lubricants backed by competitive prices and service.

“We are confident that with more than eight years of local market knowledge, we are confident that there is a growing need for high quality lubricants in the region and we are extremely pleased with this move to be able to sell and distribute locally manufactured, cutting edge Caltex lubricants,” Mayne said.

During the initial stage, Caltex lubricants that will be blended locally are Havoline and Delo engine oils.

Douglas Rankine, the firm’s General Manager Middle East and Africa – Fuels & Lubricants. said the “Caltex Delo advanced products are designed to deliver high-level engine and transmission protection with optimized fuel economy, for improved running costs, less downtime, and helps to save money.

In 2013, Chevron signed a lubricants distribution agreement with Africa Fuels & Lubricants Limited, an affiliate of AML.

“The success of this new brand licensing model is anchored by the strong equity we have in our brands and a focus on implementing a compelling customer experience through our integrated fuels and lubricants business and strategic partnerships. We look forward to a long, and successful relationship with AML,” said Rachna Kaul, Vice President, Europe, Africa, Middle East, South Asia Sales & Global Marine.

Douglas Rankine, GM Middle East & Africa – Fuels & Lubricants. added that “as part of this new relationship with AML, Chevron is excited to grow the Caltex brand across Eastern Africa and will continue to explore future growth opportunities in new and existing markets.

Orginal Article Link: https://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/2021/10/caltex-starts-manufacturing-local-lubricants-in-kenya/

Rwanda Signs International Convention on Tax Matters

Rwanda this week became a signatory to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC).

The treaty is a commitment by Rwanda to comply with international standards from the European Union and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This will enable Rwanda to expand her network of information exchange partners from the current 12 to more than 141.

The Convention was developed jointly by the OECD and the Council of Europe in 1988 and amended by Protocol in 2010.

The Convention is a comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. The convention was signed by Amb. François Xavier Ngarambe, Rwanda’s envoy to France, on behalf of Rwanda.

The convention is also a showcase of the transparency of Rwanda’s financial sector in general and more specifically the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC).

Kigali International Financial Centre is a financial centre facilitating international investment and cross-border transactions in Africa.

KIFC seeks to position Rwanda as a preferred financial jurisdiction for investments into Africa and by providing an attractive destination for international investors with a legal and regulatory framework fully compliant with international best practices.

The convention is expected to reinforce the transparency of KIFC and its ecosystem of international investors, financial service providers, private equity funds and fund managers.

The signing represents an important national milestone for Rwanda and the newly-created (KIFC) which is positioning Rwanda as a preferred financial jurisdiction for investments into Africa, officials said.

The treaty ensures that Rwanda complies with international standards from the EU and OECD, and it will enable Rwanda to expand her network of information exchange partners from the present 12 to more than 141.

Nick Barigye, Chief Executive of Rwanda Finance Limited, the agency mandated to promote the Centre, said that the historic signing of the OECD’s Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAAC) marks an important milestone for Rwanda’s financial sector and the Kigali International Financial Centre.

“This is imperative in the positioning of KIFC as one of the leading financial centres in Africa, as the signing helps to improve our compliance rating, integrity, and transparency of our institutions. We are confident this will help Rwanda secure the benefits of the new cooperative tax environment,” he said.

“To ensure that the MAAC is ratified and entered into force, Rwanda will move to the next steps of completing our required domestic procedures, before depositing the instrument of ratification, acceptance or approval. Everyone involved is committed to ensuring a speedy ratification process that will see the Convention entered into force as quickly as possible,” he added.

Amb. Ngarambe said that the signing is a landmark moment for Rwanda toward the establishment of Kigali as an international financial centre, and the signing is a reminder of the scale of the ambition and determination to work with all global partners to ensure the success for Rwanda.

“With a jurisdiction that adheres to the highest levels of international standards with respect to compliance and transparency, it will allow Rwanda to play a major global role in combating tax avoidance and evasion and underlines Rwanda’s long-standing commitments on these matters,” he added.

Through the signing Rwanda became the 23rd African country to sign the MAAC, joining 141 other countries, including all G20 countries.

Orginal Article Link: https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/rwanda-signs-international-convention-tax-matters