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Continental Body Ranks Rwanda As Leading Country Against #COVID-19

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The African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) has placed Rwanda at the forefront among countries that put effective COVID-19 tax relief measures in Africa, followed by Lesotho, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Madagascar, South Africa, Togo, Cameroon, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Ghana, Angola, Burundi and Namibia.

On March 21, 2020, Rwanda took a strong decision to enforce a total lockdown across the country to curtail the spread of COVID-19, a week after the first case of the epidemic was registered in the country.

Social and economic activities were halted, except for the essential supply activities including health and food related; with a range of social distancing and hygiene measures were set up, such as hand-washing equipment at agricultural collection centers.

During the lockdown, all non-essential labor and business activities, mostly urban in nature, were stopped, bringing severe effects on the country’s economy, just like any other country around the globe. 

This called for collective efforts from both public and private agencies to support the Government in the struggle by putting respective and strong measures to curb the spread while also supporting business continuity. 

It is in this line that Rwanda Revenue Authority introduced various Covid-19 relief measures to facilitate the taxpayers in their business continuity and recovery.

Among others include halting all tax audits that required physical interactions with taxpayers for a period of one month, putting on hold the two major enforcement steps for tax arrears (garnishment and public auction) for all taxpayers for a period of one month, putting in place facilitation processes to expedite the issuance of refunds particularly for hardest affected taxpayers by the covid-19 pandemic. 

The Authority also extended the certification of financial tax statements for a period of 3 months, Payments of CIT 2019/2020 expected on 31st March were deferred to 15th April 2020 and 30th April 2020 for Large Taxpayers and S&M Taxpayers respectively.

Taxpayers also benefited from the extension of tax payment periods, exemption of PAYE for the 6 months for private school teachers earning up to Rwf 150,000 net and 3 months for employees of companies operating in the tourism and hotel sector earning up to Rwf 150,000.

There was also an exemption of VAT and Import Duty for essential supplies, waiver of penalties, fines and interests, suspension of the 25% down payment admissible for amicable settlement. 

The RRA also supported businesses to access the business recovery fund that was availed by the National Bank to help taxpayers that were affected by COVID-19 by expediting issuance of Tax Clearance Certificates (prerequisite).

The Authority while introduced measures aimed at protecting society by enforcing non-physical cargo inspection procedures at the customs and allocating cargo crew members designated facilities to rest as they await the finalization of the offloading process hence minimize their interaction with the rest of the society to avoid the spread of the pandemic.

With effect from April 24, 2020, all customs services which were initially offered in Kigali and other inland customs offices, were also extended to customs border posts.

These among other measures have facilitated taxpayers in their business resumption and recovery, hence being compliant to their tax obligations notwithstanding the effects of the pandemic.

For this reason, tax revenue collection for the first quarter of 2020/21 amounted to Rwf 371.5 billion above the target of Rwf 351.2 billion. This indicates an achievement of 105.8% and Rwf 20.3 billion above the target. On the other hand, Local Government (LG) taxes and fees collections for the same quarter amounted to Rwf 11.3 billion over and above the target of Rwf 10.6 billion.

This indicates an achievement of 106.6%, and the RRA anticipates more significant achievements. 

Represented by RRA, Rwanda is one of the 39 members of Africa Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), an organization that was established by African revenue authorities in 2009, in order to improve the performance of tax administrations in Africa.

Business

Rwanda’s Energy Firm Issues US$6.5M Corporate Bond On RSE

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ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC, a Rwandan based Independent Power Producer (IPP) and an Engineering
Consulting Company is expected to issue and list its Corporate Bond on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) on Monday, July 26, 2021.

The company’s Executive Director, Ferdy Turasenga, told Taarifa on Thursday evening that the firm has secured regulatory approval from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE).

Corporate Bond listing and trading is also slated to commence on July 26.

The proceeds of the Bond, according to ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC, will be used for general corporate purposes, including but not limited to refinancing the company’s existing bank loan, investment into operational power plants and bond issuance related expenses.

The listing is expected to further showcase the Rwanda Stock Market as an avenue for generating long term financing for project development from local and international institutional and retail investors.

“This is part of a wider program that we have embarked on in partnership with the Capital Market Authority (CMA) and other stakeholders which is key in assisting SMEs to explore available financing opportunities in the capital market,” said Jean Bosco Iyacu, CEO, Access to Finance Rwanda.

He added that, “This will play a vital role in accelerating Rwanda’s inclusive economic growth both in the creation and expansion of investments and descent jobs opportunities.”

Rwanda’s demand for electricity is projected to increase according to the Energy Sector Strategic Plan.

Currently, electricity penetration in Rwanda is at 63%, with 47% connected to the national grid and
16% accessing electricity through off-grid systems.

The Energy Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) for 2018/19
– 2023/24 outlines that the Government targets to achieve 100% penetration by 2024 with 52% being
connected to the grid and 48% through off grid solutions.

Generally, this spells out good and sustainable
business for investors (IPPs) like ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC.

About ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC
ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC is an Independent Power Producer (IPP) and an Engineering Consulting
Company with Power Purchase Agreements and Concessions to upgrade, finance, operate and maintain
power plants in Africa. Currently, ECTL operates 3 Hydro Power Plants namely: Keya, Nkora & Cyimbili
in the Republic of Rwanda. With a consistent capital outlay, now totaling to over FRw 4Billion,
ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC has transformed the Hydro Power Plants (HPPs) to a combined installed
capacity of 3.2MW and supplied 17M kWh of electricity to the national grid in 2020.

Ferdy Turasenga

Given the potential energy resources which are under development in the region, ECTL looks to the
future of energy with great hope to exploit the opportunity presented in the region and beyond.
In the pipeline, ENERGICOTEL “ECTL” PLC has various energy power generation projects, all in the
Renewable Energy Space, at different stages of the project development cycle of approximately 50MW
of Power Generation including the Methane Gas-to-Power Pilot Project in Lake Kivu, a Hydro-power Project in Kenya, DRC, and Solar Power Plant in Zimbabwe and so on in Malawi.

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Business

Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Lists On LSE For US$350M

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Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (“ETI”), the Lomé based parent company of the Ecobank Group (www.Ecobank.com), was hosted today by the London Stock Exchange for a market opening virtual ceremony to celebrate the successful listing of the Tier 2 Sustainability Notes on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) main market.

This represents the first ever Tier 2 Sustainability Notes by a financial institution in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This Tier 2 issuance is the first to have a Basel III-compliant 10NC5 structure outside of South Africa in 144A/RegS format and is now listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

The bond, which matures in June 2031, has a call option in June 2026 and was issued with a coupon of 8.75% with interest payable semi-annually in arrears.

An equivalent amount of the net proceeds from the notes will be used by ETI to finance or re-finance, new or existing eligible assets as described in ETI’s Sustainable Finance Framework, available at https://bit.ly/3j4xrlb on which DNV issued a Second Party Opinion.

Investor interest for this Sophomore Eurobond issue was global, including United Kingdom, United States, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, achieving a 3.6x oversubscribed orderbook, of over US$1.3 billion at its peak.

Ade Ayeyemi, Group Chief Executive Officer of ETI, stated: “The strong global interest in our issuance reflects investors’ confidence in Ecobank’s strategy and our commitment to sustainable financing. We thank the LSE for hosting ETI today and look forward to value creation for all our stakeholders. ”

The Joint Lead Managers and Bookrunners in the transaction were Citi, Mashreq, Renaissance Capital and Standard Chartered Bank.

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Business

Botswana Finds Another Diamond Larger than 1000ct

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Botswana has delivered another diamond at 1 174.76 ct from Karowe mine a producer of high-quality rough diamonds.

It is the third diamond weighing more than 1,000 ct to be recovered from the South Lobe of the AK6 kimberlite since 2015.

In recent years, Lucara had recovered the 1,758 ct Sewelô and the 1,109 ct Lesedi La Rona diamonds from the South Lobe.

Lucara’s latest find also follows hot on the heels of the recovery of a 1,098 ct diamond by Debswana at its Jwaneng mine, in Botswana.

When Debswana announced the find on June 16, that diamond was said to be the world’s third-largest.

The 3,106 ct Cullinan diamond recovered in South Africa in 1905 is the largest diamond ever to be recovered.

“Lucara is delighted to be reporting another historic diamond recovery and its third diamond over 1,000 ct – a world record for Karowe.

“Although complex, these diamond recoveries do contain large domains of top-colour white gems that will be transformed through our partnership with HB Antwerp into valuable collections of top-colour polished diamonds, very much in high demand in the market today,” comments Lucara CEO Eira Thomas.

Lucara notes that the 1,174 ct diamond was recovered in the Mega Diamond Recovery XRT circuit at Karowe.

“On the same production day, several other diamonds of similar appearance – a 471 ct, a 218 ct and a 159 ct – were recovered at the main XRT circuit, indicating the 1,174 ct diamond was part of a larger diamond with an estimated weight of more than 2,000 ct,” the company points out.

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