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Kenya To Build 233km Expressway For US$1.4B

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has embarked on yet another ambitious and expensive infrastructure project even just one year towards the conclusion of his final term in office.

His government says that it has given green light to construction of an express highway connecting Nairobi to Mau summit covering almost 233kilometres.

This road will consume a total of US$1482,854,480. According to details, construction kicks off in September 2021 and will last at least 42 months.

The 233-kilometre contract that was awarded to a French consortium made up of Vinci Highways SAS, Meridian Infrastructure Africa Fund, and Vinci Concessions SAS last year will see the road expanded into a four-lane dual carriageway through a Public-Private Partnership model.

The consortium is expected to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the express.

The firm will then recoup its finances using the revenues and income generated by the electronic toll collection system along road over a period of 30 years.

The project will also involve widening of the existing Rironi- Mai Mahiu–Naivasha road to becoming a seven-metre carriageway with two-metre shoulders on both sides, construction of a four-kilometre elevated highway through Nakuru town, and building and improvement of interchanges along the highway.

The Rironi–Nakuru–Mai Mahiu road forms a vital part of the most important transport corridor in Kenya — the Northern Corridor— which originates in Mombasa and terminates in Malaba.

It also serves traffic destined to Narok, South Western Kenya and Northern Tanzania.

Two toll stations are set to be developed along the Nairobi-Mau Summit highway project.

According to Transport Secretary James Macharia, “The project will upgrade the old Nairobi-Nakuru highway that serves the major trade route between Nairobi and Western Kenya.”

President Uhuru last year flew to Paris France where he was hosted by his French counterpart President Emmanuel Macron. It is during this trip that Uhuru courted the French consortium to invest in this ambitious infrastructure project.

Meanwhile, President Uhuru last week boasted that he has outperformed all his predecessors by expanding the country’s economy to a Gross Domestic Product of  Ksh10.3 trillion compared to GDP of Ksh.4.5 trillion accumulated by three previous presidents combined.

According to him, under seven years of his tenure, he had done more than founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, the late Daniel Arap Moi and retired President Mwai Kibaki.

“The colonisers left us with a GDP of close to Ksh. 6.4b, the combined administrations of Mzee Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki increased GDP to Ksh.4.5 trillion, in a span of 50 years, but in only 8 years I have; has doubled that, and we are worth 10.3 trillion,” President Uhuru said.

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Business

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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Business

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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Business

Equity Bank Rwanda Launches Payment Card Usage campaign With Visa

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Equity Bank Rwanda Launches Payment Card usage campaign with Visa. Equity Bank Rwanda has today launched an exciting Visa Card Promotion that seeks to promote usage and payments of goods and services.

The campaign will see customers win exciting prizes ranging from Household Appliances, Brand New Laptops, Supermarket Vouchers, Travel Vouchers, and many more exciting monthly prizes. Launch the new Campaign, Hannington Namara, the Managing Director, said “We are excited to launch this promotion that has been designed to create awareness about the different types of cards as well as the different benefits that customers get when they choose Equity Bank Visa Cards. This promotion will go a step further and reward those who use their cards to make payments both Online and in the Store.”

“Equity Bank offers Different Visa Cards ranging from Debit Cards, Credit Cards and soon introducing Prepaid Cards. This campaign will educate customers about each type of card, the different outlets or locations that accept Equity Visa Cards whether it is online, in the store locally or abroad when they have travelled.” he added.

The key insight behind this campaign is that customers lose a lot of time going to the ATM to withdraw cash only to go into a supermarket, petrol station or pharmacy to pay for goods and services for free.

This campaign will bring to life the customer journey of an Equity Bank Visa Card holder and draw attention to the convenience enjoyed by Equity Card Holders and reward customers every month from June to December 2021. Announcing this campaign, Namara also introduced a first-in-the-market USD- denominated Equity Bank Visa Gold Debit Card.

The Gold-rated card is the first of its kind in the Rwandan market and targets to provide convenience to the bank’s customers, who are looking to make purchases online or trade using the USD currency, Hannington Namara said that the card will enable our customers to do transaction in USD currency for free.

Equity Bank Rwanda currently issues Debit, Credit and will soon issue Prepaid Visa Cards to its customers and they include Equity Bank Visa Infinite Card, a Premium Card that gives cardholders Free Travel Insurance that covers the spouse and children plus Unlimited Access to more than 800 Airport langues around the world.

Equity Bank’s Commercial Direictor, Jean Claude Gaga says that the cards offer an affordable and secure solution to the customer and will go a long way in providing the much-needed convenience and freedom.

“Our promise is to continue to give Rwandans more convenience, comfort, and control of their financial needs, by saving time and costs while carrying out transactions especially as we continue to observe safe health measures against covid-19,” he said.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gaga took the opportunity to high the fact that all cards issued by Equity are contactless, a feature that shortens the amount of time that a customer spends when making payments in crowded stores such as supermarkets, hotels.

Speaking at the Launch event, Salma Ingabire, Country Director for Visa in Rwanda said, “We are delighted to partner with Equity bank on this timely campaign to enhance the adoption of digital payments as well as inspire and inform merchants and consumers on the benefits and effectiveness of using Visa cards.”

The campaign will run for 12 months, featuring popular brand ambassadors with huge fan bases on Rwanda’s social media platform, Bamenya and Miss Honorine Uwase.

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