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Relief As Dev’t Bank Allocates $390M For Lending

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Days of misery for Small and Medium Enterprises and Smallholder Farmers could end following an agreement between the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) and USAID to develop tailored products to increase agriculture financing.

Through its Private Sector Driven Agriculture Growth Project (PSDAG), USAID Rwanda will offer technical assistance to BRD to extend financing to investments in the agriculture sector.

PSDAG will bring expertise within the newly established agriculture department at BRD to close present gaps in the entire value chain.

This arrangement is the first of its kind for both partners to engage in. And the two-year memorandum comes at a time when BRD has just set aside US$390 million to expand its agricultural and export portfolios.

US$170 million will finance businesses in agro-processing, mechanisation, modernisation and agro-input technologies. US$220 million will be used to finance the export sector, including agro-exports.

“The bank provides finances, but gaps continued to remain and new risks emerge in the sector…yet we want to create a sustainable private sector…” Says Alex Kanyankole, BRD Chief Executive Officer.

“We want to provide the agricultural sector with very tailored access to finance so that the SME and farmers can access capital that is affordable and in a way that is conducive to making their products competitive,” says Melanie Bittle Chief of Party for PSDAG.

The bank, which invested Rwf10 billion in the sector in 2016, says it is a timely boost to the efforts of financing development and modernization of the agriculture sector.

Kanyankole said at the signing ceremony that the bank after spending Rwf10b last year, it intends to increase financing to Rwf10billion in 2017, Frw22billion in 2019 and Rwf33 billion in 2019.

“As we embark on increasing lending and access to financial services to the sector, it is essential to provide technical support and capacity building to our staff and clients” Says Kanyankole.

CEO, Kanyankole addressing press after the signing of the MoU

Specifically, eligible investments could include livestock production, feeds and forage and fish production.

Export, inventory credit or warehouse receipt financing, forward contracts arrangement and insurance products will also benefit from the facility.

Additionally, Micro-finance Institutions (MFIs) and SACCOs will receive funding at lower interest rates designated for smallholder farmers, but the bank has not divulged into details yet.

This will be the first time a financier develops non-traditional lending tools that are sensitive to special needs of the targeted audience.

Initially, BRD used to engage in lending directly to commercial agribusiness, but in 2015 it restructured and developed a new strategy that works through local partner micro-finance institutions to empower and enable them to invest in agriculture.

In simple terms, according to Melanie Bittle, whose project ends in 2019, “They [BRD] have access to the money, and we have access to the expertise.

“We are creating more space and increasing lending,” says CEO Kanyankole. “They are helping us to ensure everything is in place.”

VIDEO: BRD Signs Deal with USAID

 

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Ethiopia & IMF In Talks To Revamp Old Debt

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Ethiopia asked the International Monetary Fund for a new deal, days after France and China co-chaired the first meeting of the nation’s major creditors panel to rework the nation’s previous debt.

Setting up a creditors’ panel and an agreement on how to deal with Ethiopia’s nearly U$30 billion of external debt paves the way for the IMF to determine how to engage with the country on economic recovery.

The lender’s executive board has yet to approve disbursements from the Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility, the former of which has expired — despite reaching staff-level agreements.

The government requested a new IMF credit arrangement, potentially with a similar amount, to replace the one that just lapsed, State Minister for Finance Eyob Tekalign told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Addis Ababa.

A new ECF will grant Ethiopia access to concessional resources under a poverty reduction and growth program, he said.

The IMF board in December 2019 approved an equivalent of $2.9 billion for Ethiopia’s two credit arrangements.

On Thursday, the Washington-based lender said it was “too soon” to engage with Ethiopia over any possible new program.

The formation of an Ethiopian creditors panel marks a breakthrough in a global push to restructure the debt of poor countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic under the Group of 20’s common framework.

It could also set a roadmap for the role of private creditors on the same.

The panel may propose that commercial lenders push their payment-due dates by one or two years, Eyob said later in an interview.

“The creditors committee will reach an agreement on some parameters on how to deal with comparable debt treatment,” Eyob said. The “sense we got is that there was no strong opinion on this, so we’re hopeful in getting the required amount of debt being restructured without market disruption.”

Ethiopia’s announcement on Jan. 29 that it plans to restructure its debt triggered a selloff of its $1 billion of Eurobonds. The yield on the 2024 debt has since risen, and traded at a record high of 11.75% by 11:07 a.m. in London.

Ethiopia’s economic pain, following the hit from the pandemic, was exacerbated by a civil war in its northern Tigray region, which has depleted government finances.

Ethiopia, along with at least two other African nations, Chad and Zambia, have approached creditors for debt relief under the G-20 program that aims to rework the debt for countries at risk of defaulting amid the fallout from the virus.

China’s inclusion as the co-chair of the creditor committee is key, according to Mark Bohlund, a senior credit analyst at REDD Intelligence.

It “strengthens the likelihood that re-profiling of debt service to bilateral creditors will need to be reciprocated by commercial creditors, for instance through a consent solicitation with eurobond holders to delay coupon payments,” Bohlund said.

Bloomberg

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Airtel Rwanda Partners With Canal+ To Ease Payment Of Subscription Fees Via Airtel Money

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Airtel Rwanda and Canal+ Rwanda have launched a partnership, enabling customers to easily make subscription payments.

The partnership announced at a joint press conference today provides clients of both CANAL+ and Airtel a simpler, instant and secure payments method using Airtel Money.

CANAL+ Rwanda is the subsidiary of CANAL+INTERNATIONAL, TV operator by satellite in Africa and present in over  25 African countries.

CANAL+ Rwanda have a trilingual package with 200 channels in French, Kinyarwanda and English and it offers accessible bouquet starting from 5,000 Francs with a distribution network throughout the country.

Speaking at the launch event, Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, Mr. Emmanuel Hamez said “We are delighted to launch this new service on our Airtel Money platform we welcome all Canal+ customers to enjoy the convenience and simplicity offered by Airtel Money both on the USSD as well as in the My Airtel App”.

The new service that was launched today comes on the heels of an ongoing Airtel Money campaign called Free P2P which enables all Airtel Money customers to send and receive any amount of money for FREE.

“Free P2P or Ohereza Amafaranga Ku Buntu was launched in June 2021 saw Airtel scrap all charges to send and receive money between customers, a major differentiator that positions Airtel Money to become the provider of choice when it comes to payment of good and services such Canal+ that we have launched today” added Hamez.

Canal+ Rwanda’s Managing Director, Madam Sophie TCHATCHOUA said “It gives me great pleasure to allow Canal+ client to renew their subscription with Airtel Money. The successful integration of our mutual services makes life easier for our beloved customers who can now recharge and seamlessly have their images back and all this can be done from the comfort of their home”.

To renew your subscription via Airtel Money, customers can simply dial the direct short code string *500*4*3*2*4*1# on either their smartphone on feature phone, input their 14 Digit of their decoder  number, select their preferred bouquet and make the payment which is recognized by the Canal+ billing system instantly.

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Hundreds Of Passengers Miss Flight In Uganda Due To Delayed COVID-19 Tests

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Hundreds of Ugandans have been left stranded at Entebbe International Airport by the Emirates Airways after the laboratory where they had taken their Covid-19 results delayed to return them on time.

In a Snapchat post by Ugandan socialite Sheila Gashumba, she ranted, ‘’When I tell Ugandans that Covid in Uganda is a business they say I have ‘kajanja’.

Now all Emirates passengers have missed their flights because Safari Lab sent Covid results at 2:45pm and Emirates closed its gate at 3pm.

The hospital said it couldn’t work on everyone in the short time.

Around 300 passengers missed their flight yet Safari Lab had made a total of UgSh75m since everyone had paid UGX 250,000 for the test.

In the video where all passengers were visibly angry and frustrated, they can be heard asking for what the solution is and who is going to pay for the tickets again now that those that they had paid for can no longer be used anymore.

Passengers expressed their frustration at the rot in the service.

“I experienced such thing in March as the officers in charge claimed that the gates were close at 1pm as the flight was at 3pm,” one twitter user said.

Some made jokes out of it and asked, if this was because of the US$10 tax that is in the process of being introduced and will be paid by anyone that leaves the country using the Entebbe International Airport.

Another twitter user @kasoxialex2000 asked, ‘’@UgandaCAA (Uganda Civil Aviation Authority), but seriously you guys when you move to some airports don’t you copy something? Why are we ever backwards??? Stop embarrassing us. Who will save Uganda’’
By press time there was no official communication from the Civil Aviation Authority, Safari Lab nor Emirates Airways.

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