Category Archives: Rwanda

Guide to Bukavu

A guest post by @abbyqoey

Getting There: We did not take a direct flight to Bukavu. We flew with Kenya Airways to Kigali (Rwanda) then took a taxi to Rusizi the border town between Rwanda and DRC (South Kivu).

On Arrival: The Kigali International Airport is pretty fast and efficient. As an East African citizen, I did not have to pay any taxes or get visa to go through Rwanda. However, for non-East Africans you have to make a visa application online otherwise even the authorities from the point of origin (Nairobi) won’t let you fly to Rwanda (it happened to my Canadian colleague and he missed his flight from Nairobi to Kigali. They also do not allow visa payments at the airport – which differs from the information on their website)

The taxi ride takes about 5 hours one way, and it’s a scenic route through the forest on a really good road. The border crossing was not too hectic. It took about 10 minutes on the Rwandan side and about 15 minutes on the DRC side. People have to be wary of the moneychangers on the Rwandan side. The guy at the border office warned me that they sometimes give people fake currency and it’s safer to just stick to the legit bureaus.

Getting Around: We has a personal driver to take us round and this was mostly because we were working in a village that was about 1.5 hours out of Bukavu city. I did notice that locals took either small saloon cars or what appeared to be 14-seater vans to get round the city. These vehicles were mostly in a sorry state, but there were quite a number of taxis in a much better state. We took one once at night and it turned out okay. Out in the village we saw quite a few lorries transporting cargo and people, and we were told this is a popular form of public transport out there.

The locals speak French and Swahili. The Swahili dialect was quite different to what we speak in Kenya. Some people do speak English but they are few and so we had a local translator helping us for our time there. Our host client hired the driver and translator for us.

During the day we felt pretty secure walking around. We would sometimes walk around 7:00 pm to a restaurant near our hotel but we were a bit antsy doing it as we had been warned about doing so at a security briefing given by our host client. We also had to make sure we were out of the field by 3:00 pm so as to get to Bukavu by 5:00 pm. We noticed the streets emptied out really early in the night (compared to Nairobi).

Staying in Touch: We were able to use our personal mobile phones. We got new phones and local SIM cards too. We chose Tigo as our carrier, over other available carriers like Airtel, Orange and Vodacom. But sometimes we had problems making local and international calls via the network. Our friends and family also reported having problems while trying to call us from Nairobi. That said, the quality of calls when they worked was good.

We also had access to Wi-Fi at the hotel we stayed at, at some places we frequented for dinner and also at the office we sometimes worked out from.

Where to Stay: We paid $60 USD per night for B&B at the Horizon Hotel, which was for a simple standard room. The lights kept going off a lot of the times and most places in the city seemed to have generators.

We didn’t use any credit cards. We ‘d use both the USD and Congolese Franc. You can pay for something in USD and get the change back in Francs, dollars or both. On average I spent about $22 per day, usually on food.

Eating Out: There was a lot of plantain and different types of fish in the local hotel we frequented. There was also cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, rice, ugali, pork and a kind of eggplant stew. Lunch was always buffet style so I couldn’t really tell what was the staple dish. Also, mayonnaise was served with meals at almost all the hotels.

Beer is mostly in one-litre bottles and goes for around $5. A double tot of rum, whisky and other spirits is an upward of $10 and a red wine carafe was about $20.

Shopping & Sightseeing There is an area that has a lot of colorful Congolese fabric. My colleague got some for his aunt and friend.

Gorilla trekking is something I would recommend for those who are fit. This is because it entails about an hour’s drive out of the city and then walking through a hilly forest to get to where the gorillas chill J in the Kahuzi-Biega park area

You can also chose to take a ferry ride to Goma in North Kivu and go see some volcano. We heard it’s awesome but we couldn’t manage the logistics given the limited time we had. (You need to book for an excursion online, go across Lake Kivu to Goma, get a vehicle to get you to Mt. Nyiragongo which you then scale and then spend a night at the top – as it’s best to view the volcano at night).

Odd Points: The country uses two currencies, the US dollar and the Congolese Franc. The Franc notes were quite old, like really old and tattered. The Congolese would happily trade in these notes but if you gave someone a dollar with even the slightest of rips or dent they wouldn’t take it. They’d tell you stuff like, “This is not money here.”

Kenya Agri Exports to the EU take a Hit?

An ad in the September 22 Nation newspaper  has a statement by the European Union addressed to exporters from the East African Community on changes to the tariff regime starting on October 1 owing to the failure of the two sides to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

There was also an article in the same paper showing that a draft has been agreed to, and that a final EPA may be signed and effected in time, but others say it is too late for this.

The new rates, while still subsidized compared to what other nation suppliers pay to export to the EU, are still a blow considering that some exports will no longer be duty-free.

EU Agri

EU newspaper ad

While some like tea, coffee beans & carnations will remain duty-free, Kenyan exporters will pay subsidized rates  of 4.5% on tilapia exports (compared to a normal EU rate of 8%), 2.5% for roast coffee (not 7.5%), 10.9% for mixed vegetables (not 14.4%), and 5% for roses and cut flowers (not 8.5%) between November and May – which includes the crucial Valentine’s Day period when some flower farms can earn half their revenue.

This caps what has been a tough year for Kenya’s  exports of tourism, tea and coffee which have all been adversely affected, and now this.  The recently released Economic Survey 2014 showed total exports declined by 3% from Kshs 518 billion in 2012 to Kshs 502 billion in 2013 (as per the Devolution Cabinet Secretary).

Kenya will  qualify for the preferential (GSP) tariffs, while Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania are currently considered under “least developed countries” and most of their exports to the EU will qualify for a unilateral 0% tariff.

 

Kenyan M&A

Compared to one year ago

On-Going Deals

Auto’s: – This week Al-Futtaim held a press conference to reaffirm their commitment to African market that is being spearheaded by their takeover of CMC  in Kenya.  More than anything the event was meant to showcase that the group founded in 1930,  but which few in Kenya had heard of before the deal, is a serious legitimate company (unlike shadowy China Road & Bridge that has a $3.8  billion contract to construct a standard gauge railway in Kenya.)

They have several car franchises 65 years of Toyota in UAE, Volvo, Honda vehicle assembly parts & service, used car business  and is also in engineering, financials services and the retail mall development business in the Middle East  and Asia

Al Futtaim  are long-term investors will retain the CMC brand as it has a 65 year good history that will overcome the last two bad years . But they will de-list the company as they believe that being a private company will give them the flexibility to move faster and reclaim customers and brands that have been lost such as Land Rover. 

Interestingly, the opportinuity to buy CMC was presented to them by one of their banks who knew of their interest in Africa. The company then had to work very hard to meet and bring the feuding key shareholders on board to back the buyout.

EDIT Kenya’s competition authority has now approved the acquisition of 100% of CMC Holdings by Al Futtaim Auto

Scania East Africa Limited  have taken over the purchasing, importing, assembling, fitting out, selling, servicing  of trucks, buses and chassis in Kenya that was previously carried out by Kenya Grange Vehicle Industries.

Actis buys 36% of AutoXpress, East Africa’s leading tyre distributor, with 20 stores in Kenya and Rwanda.

Merali and Sameer complete buyout of 14.9% of Firestone’s stake in Sameer Africa.


Banking

CBA returns to Uganda after 47 years.

Fina Bank has changed over its operations in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to GTBank East Africa after Guaranty Trust Bank concluded the acquisition of a 70% stake in Fina Bank Group for $100 million through combination of a capital injection and acquisition of shares from Fina Bank shareholders.  

Pakistan’s MCB Bank to acquire Kenya’s Middle East Bank (via the Standard).

Kenya’s  competition authority  has approved the acquisition of 73.35% of Genesis Kenya by Centum Investments.

Letshego Holdings  of Botswana has acquired Micro Uganda, a year after acquiring Micro Africa Ltd of Rwanda.

Food &  Beverage

Art Caffe acquired Dormans increasing their outlets from 4 to to 11 and giving them a presence in more shopping malls like Yaya, Karen and City Mall in Mombasa where Dormans had shops. However the Art Caffe were rankled by a quite in a local newspaper referring to their customers as being upmarket compared to Dorman’s ones. 

EDIT: Kenya’s  competition authority  has now approved the acquisition of 7 coffee shops of Dormans by Art-Caffè.

Pearl Capital partners have invested $1.5 million in KK Fresh Produce. 

Kenya’s  competition authority  has approved  the acquisition of Rafiki Millers  by Tiger Brands.

Kenya’s  competition authority  has approved the acquisition of Magic Oven Limited by Tiger Brands.

Beauty: 

A Netherlands-based private equity fund, TBL Mirror Fund, has bought a minority stake in a high-end Nairobi salon chain that is seeking capital to expand across East Africa.

Advertising: 

Kenya’s  competition authority  has approved the acquisition of additional 16.48% shareholding in Scangroup Limited by Cavendish Square Holdings BV. 

Health: 

Kenya’s  competition authority has excluded the acquisition of 100% of Adcock Ingram Holdings Limited by CFR Inversiones SPA from the Act

Hotels

South Africa’s City Lodge acquires Kenya’s Fairview Hotel  after Fairview Hotel firm agreed to sell the outstanding 50% of the joint venture 

Insurance: 

Kenya’s  competition authority has approved the  acquisition of 66.38% of Phoenix of East Africa Assurance Company Limited by Mauritius Union Assurance

British American (BritAM) completes buyout of 99% of Real Insurance.

Oil

Kenya’s  competition authority  has excluded the acquisition of a 55% participating interest in Block 11A from ERHC Energy by CEPSA Kenya

Kenya’s  competition authority  has excluded the acquisition of a 55% interest in Block 2B in Kenya from Lion Petroleum by Premier Oil 

Transport 

Precision Air  of Tanzania seeks a bailout from Kenya Airways? 

Transcentury to reduce stake in Rift Valley Railways (RVR)?


Other
India  Exits

Ambani reports a Kshs 2 billion profit from Kenya real estate.. Ambani’s Reliance Industries in 2007 entered into a joint venture with Delta Corporation, which has developed high-end office blocks and a mid-to-low cost residential estate in Nairobi. Delta Corporation now says it plans to exit its real estate investments to venture into hospitality and gaming businesses. 

Essar to finalise sale of its Kshs 8.5 billion Yu stake in March ..the firm says it needs the Sh8.54 billion immediately and more cash in the short term to widen its footprint in Kenya and upgrade its network from 2G to 3G.

Essar also faces a Kshs 430 million hit in its Kenya oil refinery exit ..the government and Essar Energy Overseas are engaged in compensation talks following the Indian firm’s decision to exit the refinery.

New Deals

Agriculture: At Rea Vipingo, Bid Investments withdrew their offer and have signed up with Vania Investments who are offering a new Kshs 55 per share  bid – worth Kshs 3.3 billion ($39 million) –  for the company that will leave it listed at the NSE

 E-Biz: 

There’s a potential change in ownership, at MyStrawberryStore 

Kenya’s  competition authority  has excluded the  acquisition of 999 Ordinary shares 

of My Kenyan Network Limited by African Jobs as the two have a combined turnover of Kshs 12.6 million

Regulator Issues

Pepsi came to Kenya and took on Coke but have not made much impact. They are now saying that has Coke been unfair ..PepsiCo says that rival bottle has been curtailing its marketing campaigns geared at gaining a larger share of Kenya’s soda market in the complaint to the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK).
 
Synovate directors risk jail, hefty fines..Competition watchdog asks Tobiko to prosecute Ipsos-Synovate’s chiefs for failure to seek regulatory approval of the firm’s acquisition of its predecessor Synovate.
 
In South Africa The Competition Commission plans to address anti-competitiveness between retailers despite concluding its exclusive lease agreements probe.
The investigation established that the respondents (3 supermarket chains)  were dominant in certain local markets and that they would often compel landlords not to deal with competitors (by entering into exclusive lease agreements with landlords in return for agreeing to ‘anchor’ the centre).

JobsRwanda’s Agaciro Development Fund is seeking an investment office. Deadline is Feb 14.

Idea Exchange: CarnegieMellon, DABRA, PivotEast, ResearchGrants, TED, Apps

New, ongoing, and concluded opportunities


Africa App Quest is a search for Africa’s top travel app in which developers will compete for a top prize $10,000 by building home-grown travel apps, specially designed for the tourism sector in Africa. It is sponsored by Visa and South African Tourism, the application rules are here, and the deadline (D/L) is 16 August. 

Airbus: Vote for the Team Aero Bamboo Engineering (Team A.B.E.) from the University of Nairobi,  in the  Fly Your Ideas contest where their project which engineers bamboo for aircraft cabin materials in competing against four other ideas shortlisted from 618 entries from 82 countries. Votes are open till June 3.

Art Moves Africa: AMA supports mobility of artists and cultural professionals within the African continent by paying for their costs of travel, visas and travel insurance. Performers in visual arts, music, cinema, literature and cultural advocacy are eligible, and the next deadline is 1 September for travel planned after 27 October.

For Carnegie Mellon University students interested in pursuing M.S. in Information Technology degrees in Rwanda, the Rwandan Government has scholarships for qualified students from the East African Community that cover 50% of the tuition fee and, for citizens of Rwanda there is an additional study loan to cover the remaining 50% of the tuition, plus living expenses if needed.

Connected Kenya: The Innovation Awards at the Connected Kenya Summit provide a platform to showcase Kenyan companies that are contributing to improving productivity and efficiency in the country through ICT innovation. For 2013, the awards are sponsored by Google and the deadline for applications is May 19 – apply here

Diageo: The Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards 2013 a.k.a DABRA‘s finalists were announced this week and the short-listed pieces include stories like;
  • Africa’s healthcare technology revolution
  • Barry Bateman and Oscar Pistorius: Inside the Twitter explosion
  • Ivory Coast’s Women Reject Equality in Household Law Debate
  • Mozambique – Coal, gas: boom for all or just a few?
  • Revisiting Tinapa
  • Malawi: Beautiful Destination with limping tourism
  • The Chinese loan conundrum: Who is benefitting from Zambia’s phantom growth in construction?
GAIN: The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition invites public and private entrepreneurs to partner with to improve nutrition in Africa and selected innovations will receive business advice, technical assistance, and funding.

Google: Doodle 4 Google competition is open to students aged between 6 and 18 years to draw on themes of ‘My Kenya’ to celebrate Kenya’s 50 years of independence. The winner will get ~$9,400 worth of school fees, as well as a similar amount as a technology equipment grant for his/her school and will have their doodle displayed on the Google Kenya homepage. An Android tablet device will be the prize for the teacher involved and D/L is June 14

GSK: Trust In Science Africa invites high quality African (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) medical researchers to submit proposals for collaboration and funding. The maximum grant duration is 3 years and the maximum amount of funding is $100,000 with a D/L of 31 May.

Kofi Annan Fellowship for outstanding students from developing countries provides the opportunity for 3 student from developing countries to study management at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin and graduate with an MBA. The value of the fellowship is € 58,000, other details are here, and the D/L is 30 September. 

Nairobi Securities Exchange: The Investment Challenge 2013  is an online simulation of live trading targeting Kenyan youth who are in universities, technical institutions and other post secondary colleges in which where groups are given (virtual) capital to invest over 3 months to see who ends up with the highest value portfolio. Prizes may internships at NSE partner organizations.

Orange: The African Social Venture Prize promotes social innovations in support of development that use ICT. In addition to prize money ranging from €10,000 to €25,000, three winners will also receive support from professional entrepreneurs and ICT experts for a period of six months. D/L September 20.

Pivot East: The semifinalists in the 2013 Pivot East contest have been announced, and some of the selected apps include:
  • ChamaPesa (gives investment groups a way to pool savings and invest in diverse instruments)
  • Inforex (enables foreign exchange trading between Forex bureaus)
  • EZsacco (allows savings societies to receive mobile payments, generate reports, and send members statements by SMS)
  • Juakali (a service that links informal sector workers with potential clients)
  • Smart Blackboard (gives students  1-on-1 interactive tutorials with real teachers, without the need for access to the internet)
  • iDaktari (information management system for doctors with private practice)
  • Kyatabu (a micro-leasing textbook subscription application)
  • CancerBank (mobile app that makes for easier self diagnosis, early detection, triage and treatment of cancer)
  • GreenHouse Pro (a  guide for green house farmers to cultivate six different crops)
  • Ma3Route (crowd-sources up-to-date traffic & transport information)
TED: TED Prize is an annual $1 million prize that is awarded to an extraordinary individual with a creative and bold vision to spark global change. D/L 1 June.

Safaricom: AppWiz challenge targets new mobile application developers in Kenya with the aim of equipping participants with entrepreneurial & technological skills, to launch apps into the market that cover agriculture, health, financial inclusion, education games, utilities, safety etc. D/L 28 June.

Wellcome Trust: International Engagement Awards support health research projects with grants of up to £30,000, and is open to media professionals, educators, science communicators, health professionals and researchers in bioscience, health, bioethics and history. D/L 19 August.

EDIT


$1M Grant to Fund  Storytelling on African Issues will offer African journalists reporting grants to support investigative, multimedia and data-driven stories that aim to improve health and prosperity across the continent. The African Story Challenge is a project of the  African Media Initiative   (AMI), will award approximately 100 reporting grants for stories on development issues. Details here.


88mph is accepting applications for its next three month programme in Nairobi, Kenya, with investments of up to US$100,000 available – details here and D/L is July 15 


Africa Small Research Grant Competition: The Review of African Political Economyhas an African Political Economy Research Grants competition for African scholars/activists based in Africa and pursuing a political economy agenda. D/L is 31 July and details are here.
Austrian Embassyin Nairobi has an Artist in Residence Programme 2014 that makes available 50 residencies in Vienna for the year 201 to artists, curators, writers, composers, art educators. More details here
BlackBerry Scholars Program aims to encourage women in Kenya (and the world) to enter and develop careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)and will provide scholarships to outstanding applicants who are seeking degrees at accredited local colleges and universities in the areas of STEM across Kenya. Application deadline is June 26 and more details are here

Ericsson Global Hack for Goodis a chance for Kenyan mobile application developers to unite refugee families separated from each other by conflict, war and disaster. Details here
FIRE – Fund for Internet Research and Education (FIRE) Programme Awardsaim to encourage innovation and find creative, accessible and acceptable solutions to Africa’s ICT challenges. Grant awards of up to $3,000 are available in categories of innovation on access provision, E-development, freedom of expression and a Community Choice Award category for the best social media campaign. D/L is 31 May and details are here
Georgetown UniversityMaster of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) launches New Africa Scholarship as a full- tuition scholarship for a talented graduate student from sub-Saharan Africa. D/L is January 15, 2014 and details are  here .
German Media Development Awards: The People’s Choice Award for human rights photography recognizes African photojournalists who inspire and change perceptions of life in Africa through the power of photographic storytelling. D/L is May 31
L’OREAL-UNESCO Regional FellowshipsWomen scientists who are nationals or permanent residents of any country in Sub-Saharan Africa can apply for the fellowships to assist them attain PhD degrees in all fields of science. Ten fellowships to the value of Euro 15,000 will be awarded. D/L is 30 June and details here
Scientists Without Borders and The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are offering $7,500 to the winning student in a dairy data management challenge. Details here.

TED:  Apply to be a TED Fellow 2014. D/L is June 21.


VC4Africa provides an opportunity for a select number of VC4Africa registered ventures to raise capital through the VC4Africa investor network – details  here and D/L is June 12 


Wordcamp Kenyais looking for speakers who are involved in digital marketing or bloggers in tourism to speak at the event in September 2013. Details here.

Guide to Kigali

A guest post by Niti Bhan
Getting There is not difficult  as there are Kenya Airways flights and also Rwandair flights. Our experience with Kenya Airways was not the best however. Our flight (via Bujumbura, Burundi) was on time and comfortable but the luggage for ALL, but three, passengers was never loaded in Nairobi, (or so they told us). Though, we were traveling under the “Priority” luggage tag due to colleague’s KLM frequent flyer card, the luggage arrived the following day, with the locks broken on the suitcases and the contents ransacked. 
In terms of  Visa and eGovernment, this aspect was very impressive, even before we left for Rwanda  We applied for visas online in the morning and though the response to the submission said it would take three (3) days for the visa, we received our PDF visa documents the very same day by email  (to be printed out and carried on the flight).  The payment for this cost US$ 30 at the airport and there is a little process of approaching the immigration counter before one is sent to pay at a cashier and then return  for a stamp.

The duty free at the airport is ridiculously cheap – with cigarettes cartons US$1 cheaper than in Nairobi and the Scottish single malt, Glenmorangie, cost just US$28 as compared to $40-50 for the same bottle in Singapore, Europe and the USA!

Getting around : The first thing to note in comparison to Nairobi is there is little traffic except for rush hour in morning and evening. The roads are wide, even, and clean and it was a pleasure to drive even during evening hours.

Kigali is a small town and reminds me of Bangalore in the late 1980s before the big boom – it has pleasant weather, mountainous vistas, hillsides with homes and a slower pace filled with mopeds – such as TVS 50 and ubiquitous  “motos” = boda bodas. All drivers have helmets, with spare for riders and they are marked with numbers and names. Taxis were less commonly seen.

Where to stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Chez Lando – close enough to the airport yet it felt central to the town. We paid US$ 60 per single room which were neat, clean and comfortable. Only soap is offered in the bathrooms though and such amenities were limited. On the other hand, guests have Wi-Fi internet  access (via password) throughout this garden style hotel.

There is breakfast included in the rooms, as well as a bar and restaurant . The hotel also has pleasant walkways with the heady scent of night blooming jasmine when walking through to the guest rooms.

Note: There was a theft in my room and the front desk was reluctant to act upon it in any way. We hear that police tend to say “It must be Kenyans” if thefts occur, and this had also happened to our colleague who had her house burgled by 4 armed men who took everything of value. Rwandans will claim Kigali is safer than Nairobi, but I leave that to your judgment.

Communications: Our Safaricom connection worked but even though Airtel advertising has seen around Kigali  the prepaid Airtel one did not, – & they say that it will be arriving soon.

The top two service operators here are MTN (see everywhere, discreetly) and Tigo. We also saw  internet cafes and  one assumes most businesses and hotels have broadband as that was widely advertised through RwandaTel. Is Rwanda working towards internet access (and thus provision of eGovernment services) for all? Yes, that I would agree with based on what I heard (though MTN money from the city to rural recipients, is not yet convenient for due to shortage of agents) and saw (our visa response rates)

Dining We ate at the Hotel Chez Lando that was reasonable with beer in an open air environment, food tends towards a European menu rather than more local offerings that seem available in Kenya;  one of the many Chinese restaurants  had good food, fast service and was affordable and there was also KhanaKhazana – a premium Indian restaurant  whose food (speaking as an Indian from India) was superb, some of the best I’ve eaten and the restaurant was packed with expats from all over the world.  The service was better, in my personal estimation, than in Kenya, although our Kenyan
colleagues feel the Rwandans to be slow. There is tradeoff made there for waiters here are empathetic, courteous, and willing to help you choose and navigate the menu.

Beer: Mutzig is the highly recommended local beer and its better than a Heineken and maybe (dare I say) than  Tusker! It comes in two sizes, extra large and regular and is the preferred beer over the more plebian Primus (considered the Budweiser of Rwanda). 

Our hotel’s bar was packed with non resident diners (the front half is separated by a garden gate from the residential half) and had TV sets, a pool table and casual open air seating. On the other hand, with all its non smoking rules, and Rwanda is said to be stricter about smoking than Kenya.  However, this was not felt as a major constraint by our smoking colleague.

Shopping & Sightseeing: Not much of this happened due to our packed
work schedule but a  must-see in Rwanda is the Genocide Museum in Butare. The reverberations of this nations’ events of 1994  can still be sensed across the country (we went deep south close to the Burundi border as part of our
work, passing the Ethnographic Museum) and influences the country’s patterns of behaviour. April is the national month of mourning and the country, effectively shuts down.

Rwanda cannot be understood without understanding this national event, and even our group (on a commercial trip) could not avoid the bullet holes in our local office, or the scars – both mental and physical – as some of our colleagues, narrated their stories of survival.

Business opportunities: MTN Money has been there for three years but rural agents are not as common as the local Bank Populaire de Rwanda – which has more rural outlets than MTN Money agents per local interviews on cash flow,  although for the city dwellers, it is more convenient. There is opportunity here, as the government moves towards eGovernment and providing internet access for all, for a wide variety of services and applications on the mobile platform.

One also did not see much activity such as jua kali metalworks, fabricators etc. and the rural market’s household goods shop had only china made offerings and no local ware such as in Kenya. Only one tailor was seen on the 110 KM trip to upcountry locale. Biashara is not as obvious nor as common, and one has heard is much more regulated by local councils and regions. In Kigali, Indians were seen doing business as were the Chinese.

Biggest Surprise: Rural Rwanda barely noticed us mzungus and we did not feel we were foreigners like we had in other rural regions e.g.  in Kenya. Only in a rural market, was our Kenyan colleague teased for having a mzungu with her. Our second biggest surprise, (coming from Kenya,) was the minimal wall paintings seen  across rural Rwanda and how structured and regimented the buildings were – similar construction, similar colours and mostly natural earth walls in comparison to the bright series of walls  (with cheap corporate advertising) one sees in Kenya.

Overall, a peaceful, small, well managed nation was the impression left although one could see prisoners in their bright orange suits at work in the city as well in the rice fields in the rural areas. Prisoners do not escape when working the fields because, if they do, their families homestead will be confiscated in return by the government.

Summary: The sense was that Kagame would indeed reach his 2020 vision of becoming the Singapore of Africa, but I add the caveat of the obvious and unnecessary thefts from the hotel room as a caution.