New bonds: IFC boosts commitment to Rwanda’s private sector and capital markets
In 2004, Rwanda evoked little beyond its own borders than memories of the country’s decade-old genocide. But on the ground, Rwanda was moving forward.
Jean Philippe Prosper, IFC Vice President for sub Saharan Africa, recalls his first visit to Rwanda that year, where he encountered an unusual dynamism. “The government, private sector, the people; all were committed to development”, he recalls.
At a meeting, a Rwandan minister requested IFC to establish an entrepreneur training program. The request was followed by a visit from an official courier. As Prosper ate breakfast at his hotel the following day, he received the Ministry’s program proposal —a process that normally takes weeks in other countries.
“That’s when I knew Rwanda meant business”, says Prosper.
Fast forward a decade, and IFC’s track record in Rwanda includes that entrepreneurship program, along with$112 million invested in key sectors of Rwanda’s economy, such as financial markets, infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture. Rwanda’s impressive investment climate reforms have placed it at the top of IFC and the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ rankings for Africa for the past five years.
IFC deepened its partnership with Rwanda by issuing a local currency bond in May 2014, and signing three new agreements worth $30 million in the financial and telecommunications sector.
Flanked by government and business leaders, Vice President and Treasurer Jingdong Hua launched the “Umuganda” bond - a 15 billion Rwandan franc ($22 million) issue. As Rwanda’s first international issue, it was well received by domestic and international investors. It was 100 percent oversubscribed; a sign of optimism about Rwandan currency.
“Rwanda is slowly developing its capital markets, and the success of the recent IFC bond shows how the investor community is buying into our story. The people are beginning to trust us”, said Rwanda’s Finance Minister - Claver Gatete
Meanwhile, AB Rwanda, Urwego Opportunity Bank will use IFC’s financing to increase lending to Rwandese entrepreneurs. IHS plans to work with Rwanda’s existing cell phone networks to expand reach, particularly to rural areas.
In meetings with President Paul Kagame, government and private sector leaders IFC officials discussed the World Bank Group’s support for Rwanda’s Vision 2020 of transforming into a middle-income nation.
Reflecting on a decade of partnership, Prosper said: “Rwanda is an excellent example of a country that is using private sector investment to build its success. IFC will continue working with Rwanda’s government and private sector to find more opportunities for economic growth.”
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