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Cameroonian Businessman Sidelined By Mauritanian Firm Over Rwanda Hydro-power Deal

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The Commercial Court in Kigali is expected to adjudicate in a highly contentious business dispute between shareholders of Refad Rwanda Ltd Company.

The shareholders in this Refad company include Jacques Ntogue with a 49% stake, while Omnicane a Mauritanian sugar-sector giant controls 51% of shares.

“I was the founder and Chairman of Refad Rwanda. With the majority shareholding. When Omnicane  came in they got 51% and committed to invest U$3Million Equity in the project. We have never seen that,” Ntogue told Taarifa in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

Refad company is currently managing construction of two hydroelectric dams in southwest Rwanda.

However, these shareholders have not been in good business relations as Ntogue accuses Omnicane of fraud, attempting to sideline him in the hydroelectric dam project. He has chosen to drag his partner to the Kigali commercial court accusing Omnicane of forgery to steal his shares in the Refad company.

In 2019, there was a sudden increase in the capital of Refad company and this happened without the knowledge of Ntogue but later learnt in 2020 that his shares in the company had been stolen or diluted or even chopped from 49% to a very shy figure of 1.52%.

For any Business person such an action would not just be left to pass. Ntogue quickly swung into action and filed a complaint in the commercial court but also appealed to Rwanda Development Board.

A dissatisfied Ntogue badly wanted the capital increase annulled.

In its argument, Omnicane argues that it took an equity stake in Refad in December 2014 and argues that Ntogue had never paid the equivalent of U$ 3million he should have done for his shares.

“This is not true. When Omnicane came, I had already secured; feasibility study, Environmental study, land acess and land rights- all this work took at least 5 years and was paid for from Jacques Ntogue pocket,” according to his lawyer Isaac Ndahiro.

Ndahiro further explains that Omnicane made 3 due deligence missions in Kigali, met 3 minister, EWSA directors and apointed a Swiss company Stuky that validated technical and financial studies. There was no mention that Refad Rwanda will inject an extra U$3million and give 51% share to Omnicane.

Meanwhile, in November 2019, Omnicane offered to Jacques Ntogue to buy 49% share for €uro600,000. Ntogue rejected that and instead offered to buy 51% of Omnicane for €uro 3million.

However, Ntogue previously told  Africa Intelligence that this amount corresponds to the sum the firm spent on feasibility and environmental impact assessments before Omnicane came on board.

In a nutshell, Ntogue told Taarifa that Omnicane refused to follow RDB guidelines when RDB realised the Fraud.

“The capital increase not only was a fraud, but it never happened since with 49% of shares we were never informed about this capital increase,” Ntogue said.

In another submission, Ntogue says that Omnicane with a local accomplice has organised a tax evasion by a fabricated loan to the local company- a loan that has no evidence nor trace, “This is pure fraud.”

According to Ntogue, all these major operations should have requested a board meeting followed by a shareholders meeting,  “None of these meetings took place.”

Since the matter is already in the courts of law, “we request that the court request an independent audit. To know what has happened since we have being asking for 5 years to get company financial data. And that the court follows RDB request to give us back our 49% shares.”

Below are details of a letter written by RDB’s Registrar General Richard Kayibanda and addressed to Dieudonne Nzafashwanayo of ENSAfrica, Ref: RDB/3/RG/1735/11/2020. Copied on this letter include; Shield Associates, Omnicane Ltd and Omnihydro.

Reference is made to your letter of 25 september 2020 where you requested the Registrar General to reconsider the decision to rescind the approval of the change filed by REFAD RWANDA LTD in the office of the Registrar General since June7, 2019 as detailed in the letter addressed to OMNIHYDRO Ltd (your client) on September 16, 2020.

As we informed your client in the letter of September 16, 2020, the rescission of the approval of the filed changes in REFAD  was based on the provisions of the articles 191 and 194 of the law no17/2018 of 13/04/2018 governing companies.

The reading of the two articles makes it clear that notwithstanding anything a company’s incorporation documents (in this case the clause 12 (I) of the articles of Association of REFAD RWANDA Ltd adopted on May 8, 2020), no action may be taken by a company which affects, “the rights, privileges, limitations and conditions attached to the share by this  law of the incorporation documents, including any voting rights and rights to distributions attached to the share” unless that action has been authorised by a special resolution of each class.

This indicates that the provisions of the articles of association of Refad affecting Refad Group AG right to vote cannot be exercised if not taken by a shareholders’ special resolution in which at least 75% of shares (as registered by then in the registry of companies) are represented.

Please note that when the decision which affected Refad Group AG voting right was taken, the latter had 75 ordinary shares representing 49% of the total shares. This means that in this situation it was not possible to take a special resolution in its absence.

From the above we would like to inform you that the decision rescinding the approval of the filed changes in Refad Rwanda ltd/ Omnihydro Ltd as communicated to the latter on September 16, 2020 remains unchanged.

we also take this opportunity to remind Omnihydro ltd to restore the company records in the registry in their status as initially requested in our letter of September 16, 2020 immediately upon receipt of this letter, failure of which, it shall be effected by our office.

This is a developing story, Taarifa will bring you extra details in a series

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Inkomoko Donates 500 Smartphones To Refugees For World Refugee Day Through #ConnectRwanda

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Timed with World Refugee Day, Inkomoko is fulfilling its #ConnectRwanda campaign pledge by donating 500 smartphones to entrepreneurs across Rwanda.

This weekend, as the world celebrates World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20, Inkomoko is working with MTN Rwanda, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management, and UNHCR to distribute the majority of the 500 phones to refugee and host community entrepreneurs, increasing their access to government services, financial products, and overall digital connectivity for their small businesses.

Initiated by MTN Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the #ConnectRwanda campaign was launched in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households across Rwanda to leverage the digital economy.

Since then, private companies, government institutions and individuals have come together to connect all Rwandans through technology.

Inkomoko’s phone donation, as part of World Refugee Day, aligned with their larger strategy to digitize services and provide increased access to finance for refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

These pivots have emerged as Inkomoko adapted to helping entrepreneurs adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19.

Phone distribution will launch in the Gihembe Refugee Camp where Inkomoko has been working since 2016. 

“During COVID-19, movement restrictions limited how we could provide services in refugee communities. Like most businesses, it forced us to quickly develop digital offerings that would work for our clients. Because we were able to make expedient digital implementations and because 39% of our Inkomoko staff are refugees themselves, we were able to continuously serve our entrepreneurs despite movement restrictions,” says Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs.

The 500 donated smartphones fortify Inkomoko’s track record of financial inclusion, as Inkomoko is also rolling out a new digital loan app that will increase access to business financing for refugee and host communities.

This mobile loan app for smartphones is available in Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili, and will help Inkomoko to diversify access points for financing across the country, a key request from entrepreneurs.

All of the phones donated by Inkomoko will come preloaded with their app.

Last year for World Refugee Day, Inkomoko partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to release US$2.6million in COVID-19 relief grants to more than 3,500 refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

One year later they have released data showing that as a result of their grants, businesses were able to generate more than US$10 million in new revenue and they employ more than 20,000 people throughout Rwanda. In addition, 98% of closed businesses have re-opened. 

“Inkomoko’s work with entrepreneurs has consistently shown that investing in refugee businesses is catalytic for economic development at-large. We are able to provide new growth opportunities for our clients in refugee communities by bringing new investments and digital solutions,” says Julienne Oyler, Inkomoko’s CEO.

Looking ahead, Inkomoko has pledged to support more refugee and host community entrepreneurs, including providing 25,000 refugee households with access to affordable capital in the coming years, all facilitated by more digital solutions.

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5 Major Structural Reforms At RRA

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Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has been undergoing structural reforms for the past ten years. Key focus on the reforms is digitising service delivery.

Implementation of electronic solutions leveraging on evolving technology has been very critical in ensuring the improvement of taxpayer service delivery and re-engineering RRA’s internal processes in a bid to build a strong revenue administration.

The Commissioner General of RRA, Pascal Bizimana Ruganintwali, spoke to Taarifa about the major reforms since 2010.

1. The electronic single window system in customs has been ranked among the best, worldwide, on matters to do with easy sharing of information among trade regulation stakeholders, faster clearance of traded goods, as well as improved transparency due to limited human interventions.

2. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has significantly reduced the cost of doing business by eliminating the physical escort of cargo and the cost related to it. The number of days for importation from Mombasa to Kigali has reduced from 21 to 16, to a maximum of five (5) days today. The Electronic Cargo Tracking System has also contributed to efforts of fighting smuggling since it has eliminated the diversion of cargo.

3. The E-Tax system is a solution for electronic filling and electronic payment. Taxpayers can file their tax returns using their home/office computers/laptops regardless of their location. The system also accommodates other useful modules such as Audit and Refund Management, Debt Management that helps the tax administration in enforcement and tax arrears recovery, Motor vehicle management such as motor vehicle registration and ownership transfer, Tax Account and Registration/De-registration of taxpayers. The system has ushered in numerous benefits to the tax administration and to the taxpayers.

4. Electronic Billing Machine: Since the introduction of EBM in 2013, RRA witnessed an increase in VAT collections from Rwf110.5 billion in 2013 to Rwf450.7 billion in 2019 while VAT payables increased by 99.34 %. The system has also increased income tax collection and allowed the setup of controls to validate input and output provided that there was appropriate management of supply chain. Three years ago, RRA introduced the new improved version of the EBM which is more efficient and has eased tracking of transactions on the part of both RRA and taxpayers. The new internet based EBM which aimed at improving compliance and widening the tax base has addressed all the loopholes that existed in the older EBM.

5. Local Government Tax System has improved the management of Local Taxes declaration and payment. The system provide solutions from Registration of taxpayers, Declaration, Audit, enforcement and enables accurate reporting. For accurate and timely reporting on revenue Collection, the Tax Administration introduced SAGE X3.

All these reforms introduced in the last decade, Ruganintwali says, have significantly improved tax compliance, transparency in tax declaration and tax collection since taxpayers can pay precise taxes based on accurate income generated.

Technology in tax collection has ensured certainty in target setting and forecasting since it makes it easier to know what should be happening in the near future.

What are the innovations coming up soon?

He says new operating model currently under implementation intends to become a more data centric tax body that collects as much as possible in terms of revenue and also facilitates taxpayers systematically through electronic systems.

“We are designing new mechanisms leveraging on technology to develop solutions that will ensure high level of compliance among taxpayers through accurate declarations across all tax-heads. Among them, include my RRA project, a solution that will gather all taxpayers’ information in one place. Taxpayers could log into their accounts and have all the information they need to know with less efforts and time. Other projects include the enhancement of electronic Cargo tracking among others.

“Strengthening the institutional capacity (structural review and capacity building of workforce) will remain among our top priorities,” he notes.

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Cimerwa Records Rwf30billion Worth Of Revenue

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Rwanda’s largest cement manufacturer CIMERWA Plc has reported a major growth in its revenue in the first quarter of 2021.

The company said on Friday, it fetched Rwf 30 billion worth of revenue indicating a 14% increase as compared to the same period last year.

According to John Bugunya, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO), the company was able to stage a stronger performance despite the devastating effects of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our position in the first half of the year paints an encouraging picture of what our financials will look like at the end of 2021. Despite the effects of the lockdown that went into effect during the first quarter of this year, we were able to record strong revenue and profit and maintain a healthy cash balance of Rwf 8.7 billion. This speaks volumes on our resilience in the face of difficulties and challenges,” said Bugunya.

Details also indicate that Cimerwa also recorded a Rwf 1.02 billion decrease in cost of sales which was buoyed by efficiencies in plant operations and prudent cost-saving measures.

Meanwhile, Albert Sigei – Cimerwa Plc CEO said the domestic market continues to show a good growth trajectory driven by infrastructure investments across the country while the export market also grew during the period.

“Amidst this wave of growth, our market position remains strong and steady and we are gearing up to make it even more robust,” he said.

Sigei further noted that the noticeable increase in company inventories is a deliberate and strategic move to ensure that it is ready and able to supply the market with cement while maintaining support for the government’s infrastructure development agenda as a proud ‘made in Rwanda’ company.

As part of measures aimed at preventing further spread of Covid-19, the company has vaccinated about 200 staff and adheres to Standard Operating Procedures.

“Our good results during this period demonstrates Cimerwa’s ability to ride the wave of challenges that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This however is a collaborative effort that starts from the exceptionally skilled pool of people who work for this company, a competent and devoted board of directors and our supportive stakeholders. All of this puts us in a position to keep delivering on the promise we made to our customers, our shareholders and the country at large,” Sigei said.

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