Category Archives: Rwanda

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Kenneth Matiba

“Aiming High” is an autobiography of Kenneth Matiba that covers his life as a civil servant, businessman, farmer, corporate leader, member of parliament, cabinet minister, and presidential candidate.

It’s also a good business book that’s well written and detailed.

Excerpts:

Scaling Farming Ventures

  • While exporting beans to Europe, he faced freight challenges. East African Airways (EAA) had no cargo and when BOAC planes landed in Nairobi from South Africa, they were always full. Cargo was doubled booked and often not loaded at Embakasi airport and later thrown away. He decided to start a cargo airline in 1967 and registered African international airways and invited John Michuki and Charles Njonjo to join. At the time EAA’s problem was that Uganda was not remitting revenue and it was serving uneconomic routes in Tanzania. He got the authority to operate a cargo charter flew an old Britannia plane that was on sale for £65,000 to Nairobi to inspect with Michuki and Njonjo. But unhappy EAA staff reported back and the Tanzania Standard had a headline about how Kenya was helping three capitalists to destroy EAA. Michuki and Matiba were PS’s and Njonjo was AG and they decided not to sign the purchase agreement and the plane was flown back to England.
  • Craziest venture: In 1975 during a potato shortage in England, tried to export 6,000 tons. Rounded up all potatoes in Meru and with 290 trucks got them to Mombasa. Managed to load one ship with 1,600 and later another with 1,700. The second broke down, and by the time it reached potato was rotten and the ship was diverted for special cleaning.

Making Transitions

  • Only after he resigned from the government was he able to safeguard his independence through personal business dealings.
  • Radio announcements about cabinet reshuffles were a feature as far back as 1965. He heard he had been transferred from the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives. There was no proper handover and he felt it was wrong to shuffle civil servants (PS) like happened with ministers.

Corporate Life

  • In 1968 he planned to retire as PS and gave a one-year notice. He asked Geoffrey Kariithi to wait till President Kenyatta was in a good mood before telling him. When Kenyatta realized this he asked who authorized Matiba to leave the government and Kariithi reminded him it was he. Matiba later made up – he was arranging for his son Raymond and John Michuki’s two sons to be circumcised and Kenyatta asked that he also rope in his two sons, Uhuru and Muhoho.
  • After he left the government, he had five job offers and chose Kenya Breweries.
  • He refused to become the Chairman of Anglo Kenya investments without equity, so he was offered 26% and he paid for that.

Hoteling & Real Estate

  • Acquired Brunners hotel in 1974, a hotel in the middle of town, that was listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange. The Brunner family had 65% and Marcel Brunner and his son Derek continued to run it and helped Matiba with Jadini later on. But they closed it in 1978. It had an old interior and its 120 beds could not support the needed renovations. They sold the building in June 1982 and Fedha Towers was later built on the site.
  • George Robinson bought 10 acres in Karen, improved and sold it to buy the Mackinnon Building opposite New Stanley for £50,000.
  • Matiba scouted Jadini Hotel in 1967 which was on sale in £54,000 and recommended Robinson buy it. They sold MacKinnon at a profit and bought Jadini and another 10 acres in Karen.
  • Bought Dacca Road houses in Nairobi West in 1969 and sold them in 1971.
  • They developed Golf Course housing estate but later gave up housing to concentrate on hotels and schools.
  • When Robinson died, Matiba negotiated to purchase his stake and took over Jadini. He had to rush to complete construction and open for tourists while facing down hostile old staff and management.
  • Michael Betrano, a new manager, rescued Jadini when it had 7.5% occupancy in March 1973 and put it on the world map. He later hired Christopher Mogidell who took it further.
  • In 1978, built Africana Sea Lodge in six months and in 1984 built, the 400-bed Safari Beach in 10 months that was opened in 1986.

Tourism Sector

  • Seasonal airlines: For KTDC, Matiba chaired the struggling Air Kenya which only did business from December to March and July to September when tourists visited. It was idle rest of the year and utilization was never above 50%.
  • Difficult Ministers: Tourism Minister Elijah Mwangale saw hotels as swindlers who did nothing but cheat Kenyans out of the foreign exchange. Matiba also held his tongue when Maina Wanjigi set a target of a million hotel beds which he correctly saw as unrealistic as the industry could not build 100,000 beds a year.
  • Matiba argued that tourism was the cheapest for Kenya to earn foreign exchange. To earn $100, you need to invest $40, and gets a net of $60 while to earn $100 from coffee, it costs $68.

Sports involvement

  • Matiba decided to form Kenya Breweries Football Club in 1970 and have all staff stop playing for other teams. They entered the poorly-run Kenya Football Association league that had a lot of frustration. Matiba later formed the Kenya Football Federation to run a 12-team Kenya Football League exclusively as a company that the Sports Minister could not interfere with and invited other clubs to join and though KFA refused to recognize them. But after Gor Mahia agreed to join, other teams followed. All they wanted was to play soccer and entertain fans, not represent Kenya. They were not deterred by a suspension by the KFA and went ahead to draw a league for Nairobi Mombasa Nakuru Kisumu, book and pay for the stadiums on Saturday and Sunday for a year.
  • Clubs got more from gate takings, tickets were printed by security firms which club representatives checked at gates, and complimentary tickets were abolished. While prices went up, they got more fans to come after they eliminated stone-throwing. They ensured clubs showed up ahead of time for matches for inspection and eliminated match delays sometimes caused by witchdoctors and superstitions.
  • In his first year chairing KFF and KFL, Kenya won three East African cups.
  • Matiba was an avid sportsman who climbed Mount Everest when he was a Cabinet Minister.

Giving Back.

  • Matiba worked with Bishop Sospeter Magua who wanted to make the church self-sustaining with permanent income through investments, and not be weak financially by staying dependent on unpredictable charity donations. They organized for three districts – Muranga, Kiambu and Nyeri – to contribute. President Moi chaired the first harambee in Muranga where Kshs 1 million was raised, Mwai Kibaki chaired the next one in Kiambu and Njonjo was invited for the third in Nyeri. They bought a 7-acre plot in Loresho and one acre on Kayahwe Road to build maisonettes. But Bishop Magua died in a road accident in 1982. Is Bishop Magua Centre, home of the first iHub, named after him?
  • Embori farm in Timau was put up for sale in 1977 for Kshs 34 million and Robert Wilson, the European farmer selling it, did not want it to go to a cooperative or large group, preferring it should go to individuals or a public company. Matiba persuaded him that it could remain intact and not be subdivided. The seller also wanted Kshs 20 million of the amount in foreign exchange and Matiba asked Kenyatta who authorized the Central Bank to release this sum which was, the largest amount of forex ever given to purchase a farm. Meanwhile. a cabinet minister who wanted the farm tried to scuttle the deal. Matiba did a prospectus for Kiharu residents that yielded Kshs 6 million from 10,000 shareholders. After taking over, they sold wheat to KFA and barley to Kenya Breweries to meet the interest on overdraft for seven years but the farm did not generate enough to pay back the bank loan and shareholders are not willing to pay more. So Matiba next pushed them to sell some land to local residents, with a bank offering 50% finance and keep the balance for the farm, but after a year, only a handful took the offer. The farm still runs well today.

Business and politics

  • After 3.5 years as MP, he was appointed a Minister of Culture and Social Services in September 1983. He was the Chairman of Kenya Breweries and he made a personal decision to resign and was succeeded by Bryan Hobson. At the time, Alliance had seven hotels and four schools.
  • Matiba resigned from the cabinet in December 1988. After he quit he has no passport and went about his businesses quietly, but Moi never forgot. When he got his passport back in 1989, he made a trip to Rwanda for the wedding of the daughter of President Habyarimana in July 1989. Then in February 1990, he was invited back to Rwanda to explain how that country could expand its tourism and he took five experts from the Alliance group with him. But as soon as he came back, special branch officers started looking for him for interrogation after the death of Minister Robert Ouko.
  • Concern about leadership. The Kenya majority has lost the concept of servanthood. Leaders aspire not to serve citizens but themselves. Many spend only two hours in their offices making personal telephone calls and the rest of their time on their business.

Business Advice

  • The biggest problem African businesses face is a lack of accounting.
  • Africans also treated businesses as hobbies and entrust them to ignorant family members.
  • Business people try to do too much – being butchers, curio sellers and textile dealers all at the same time instead of concentrating on one line.


Matiba was detained in July 1990. The book dwells on his medical treatment after he was poisoned in detention and his preparation to run for the Presidency in 1992 where he came second. It does not go into his later tribulations with banks and businesses that halted the corporate empire he had built. Kenneth Matiba died in April 2018.

Coronavirus in Kenya: Week One

The Outbreak

  • March 13: The Ministry of Health confirms the first case of coronavirus in Kenya on March 12 from a Kenyan citizen who returned to the country from the USA via London 
  • March 22: Kenya confirms 8 new cases, bringing the total number to 15. It is tracing 363 other people and institutes a mandatory shutdown of major social activities in the country. 

Banking Industry:

  • March 15: President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to banks and mobile operators to reduce the costs of mobile transactions and calls on Kenyans to use credit cards, mobile money and other forms of cashless payments. 
  • March 16: Safaricom waived fees for M-Pesa payments below Kshs 1,000 (~$10) for 90 days and raises M-Pesa transactions limits to Kshs 150,000 and also increases daily transaction caps and maximum mobile money wallet sizes up to Kshs 300,000 ($3,000). Airtel and Telkom Kenya follow suit a day later. 
  • March 18: Bankers meet the President at State House where the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor announces that all commercial bank personal loans that were there in good standing on March 2, are eligible for extensions for up to one year while SME and corporate borrowers can approach their banks to be assessed for loan restructuring, with the cost borne by banks. Also, that banks would no longer charge fees for customers to check their bank balances.
  • Different banks announced their compliance with the new rules.   
  • March 19: The Kenya Bankers Association confirms that all banks will assist clients who come in to speak about how COVID-19 has affected their employment or business operations, and whose loan repayments were up to date as at 2 March 2020. They also ask all customers to observe 1-metre (or 3 feet) social distancing at branches
  • March 20: The CBK announces presents Kshs 7.4 billion ($74 million) to the Government to support the coronavirus fight efforts. This it says are the proceeds from the demonetization exercise that concluded in September 2019 and is the sum of (old) Kshs 1,000 notes that were not turned in and which the CBK had classified as being miscellaneous receipts. 

Famous People in Quarantine

  • March 18: Senator for Kericho County Aaron Cheruiyot announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff who arrived from London on March 9 are reported to be in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Ambassador Macharia Kamau Kenya’s Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine after returning from New York. 
  • March 20: Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya announces on twitter that she is in self-quarantine, following her trip to the UK. 
  • March 22: Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health announces that Gideon Saburi, the Deputy Governor of Kilifi County, has been apprehended and put in a mandatory 14-day quarantine after he failed to isolate himself after returning from a trip to Germany. Also that he will be charged in Court after his isolation period. 

Mandatory Quarantine in the Eastern Africa region 

  • March 18: Uganda announces immediate mandatory quarantine for arriving visitors, at their cost.  
  • March 21: Ethiopia announces mandatory for passengers arriving from March 23, at their cost. However, diplomats will be quarantined for 14 days at their embassies, while transiting passengers will be placed in isolation at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel until they resume their connecting flights.
  •  March 22: Kenya has suspended all international flights other than cargo from March 25. Also, all arriving passengers will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government institution at their own cost. 

Internal country shutdowns

  • March 14: Rwanda closes schools, places of worship, large gatherings, and asks people to work from home. 
  • March 15: Kenya’s President announced the Government has closed all schools, suspended official foreign travel, and will encourage all employees to work from home. 
  • March 18: Uganda closes schools, universities and bars, and bans weddings and religious services for a month. 
  • March 21: Rwanda closes its borders to movement of people and cancels international flights, other than cargo ones. It also suspended tourism and research in 3 national parks where gorillas are found.
  • March 21: Nigeria shuts its airports to international flights as coronavirus cases reach 22.  
  • March 21: South Africa closes its airspace to foreign travelers.
  • March 22: Kenya orders a suspension of religious services at all places of worship, closure of bars and bans gatherings including weddings, and birthday parties. Restaurants are to remain open for delivery services and funeral events are restricted to a maximum of 15 mourners.

Flight cancellations/ Airlines reschedulings:

  • March 17: Kenya Airways updates its schedule, reducing London flights to five times a week, Dubai & Johannesburg to once daily, and Johannesburg to two daily. It also suspends flights to Bangkok, Khartoum, Djibouti & Mogadishu. 
  • March 18: Rwanda announces a halt to all commercial passenger flights into/out of the country on March 20 including operations of Rwanda Air for 30 days. 
  • March 19: Kenya Airways suspends flights to Antananarivo, Bamako, Bangui, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Luanda, Yaounde/Douala, and Zanzibar. 
  • March 20: Ethiopian Airlines announces 30 routes closures. The list is not revealed till the next day – and the listed countries include Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, Djibouti, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Madagascar, Angola, Congo, Mali, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Indonesia, Israel and all US ones. 
  • March 20: South African Airways immediately suspends all operations until the end of May following a government notice prohibiting the embarkation/disembarkation of non-SA crew and passengers. The only flights that will remain will be domestic service between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • March 22: Emirates announces cancellation of all passenger flights from March 25 .. but .. 
  • March 22: Turkish Airlines to suspend most of its flights – leaving just a handful of flights to New York, Washington, Addis Ababa, Moscow & Hong Kong (via AlexinAir).
  • March 22: Kenya Airways suspends all international flights. Cargo flights remain, as will passenger services to Mombasa and Kisumu. 

Corporate Restructuring’s: 

  • March 13: Trading was suspended at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. This came following news of the discovery of the first coronavirus case in Kenya and the main share index dropped by over 5%. Past instances when circuit-et breakers have been tripped include in the period of post-election violence in 2008, and in September 2017, on the day that Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the results of the August 8 presidential election. 
  • March 13: Kenya’s insurance regulator, IRA, communicates that insurance companies will continue to provide their services to policy holders affected or infected with the virus .. but insurance companies say their re-insurers do not cover pandemics such as Coronavirus. 
  • March 16: Ethiopian Airlines restructuring plans include scaling up cost-saving programmes and asking service providers for temporary relief, discounts and waivers. They have also started to renegotiate all contracts, including aircraft leases as well as scaling down offices and reducing staff.
  • March 16: Java adjusts seating and promotes delivery as do other restaurants. But many other restaurants closed. 
  • March 18: It was revealed that The Standard Group plans to lay off 170 workers. 
  • March 18: Churches to restrict attendance numbers.
  • March 18: The African Development Bank cancels all travels and requires staff to work from home. The Bank’s Board of Directors is reviewing the configuration and design of the Bank’s statutory Annual Meetings originally scheduled for May 26-29, 2020 in Abidjan
  • March 18: Kenyan listed companies and licensed investment schemes that were to host annual general meetings (AGM’s) in March, April and May 2020 have been asked to defer them to later dates.
  • March 20: Kenya Airways CEO sends a memo to staff following COVID-19 and writes that in the last 24 hours, nine countries in our Africa network, the UAE and India have announced travel restrictions. So far, we have reduced approximately 65% of our flights, and this is changing by the hour. He announces that instead of layoffs they will ask staff to take salary reduction and paid & unpaid leave. The leadership team and he will take 75% and 80% respectively, while that for other staff will be 25% or 50% depending on the pay grade.
  • To facilitate supermarket shopping home deliveries, Tuskys has partnered with Sendy and Naivas has partnered with Glovo.

Government Adjustments 

  • March 16: The Ministry of Lands closes all land registries for 28 days from March 17. 
  • March 16: Kenya’s Sports & Culture Ministry closes all museums, archives, stadiums, public libraries, and cinemas for 30 days.
  • March 18: Kenya’s National Assembly and Senate both go on a month-long recess. 
  • March 18: Kenyan courts embraced digital filings and rulings of cases. 
  • March 19: Public health campaign to stop the spread is launched. 

Uplifting News

  • March 21: A thread to help those losing jobs their jobs this week and to help match their skills with part-time or remote-work opportunities. 
  • March 22: The first shipment of medical relief equipment offered by the Jack Ma Foundation arrives in Africa for distribution to different countries. The total will be 500,000 test kits and one million masks had been pledged on March 13.

BK Group – Bank Kigali Rights Issue and Nairobi Listing

BK Group, the holding company for Bank of Kigali, which is the leading financial institution in Rwanda, has launched a rights issue that will end with it cross-listing its shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

BK Group is floating 222.22 million new shares at Rwf 270 with a target to raise Rwf 60 billion (~$70 million or Kshs 7 billion) through a rights issue in which current shareholders are eligible to buy one new share for every three they own. All the funds will go to shore up the capital of the BK Group bank and its subsidiaries. Also, 7.2 million new shares will be allocated to an employee share ownership plan (ESOP) for eligible director and employees.

Incorporated in 1966, the bank ended 2017 with assets of Rwf 727 billion (~$830 million or Kshs 84 billion) and pretax profit of Rwf 34 billion. Its subsidiaries include an internet company (TecHouse), registrar, nominee, securities, and general insurance company. It has 79 branches and 2 million customers. It has an estimated 32% share of the Rwanda bank market, ahead of BPR 13%, Cogebanque 10%, Equity 8%, KCB 7%, Ecobank 6%, and a 4% share of assets each for both GT Bank and Access. 

In 2011, the Government had offloaded 25% of its shareholding to the public as the bank listed on the Rwanda Stock Exchange. It is still the major shareholder through two organizations, the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) and Agaciro Development Fund with 32.4% and 29.4% respectively. Others are the Rock Creek Group Dunross and Co Aktiebolag, Kamau Robert Wachira, RWC Frontier Markets Equity Master Fund, Frontaura Global Frontier Fund, and The Vanderbilt University – T133. After the rights issue, the top two shareholders will have 30% and 22.1% respectively with the ESOP having 0.8%. The government is not taking part but RSSB will partially participate to ensure their shareholding remains at 30% while other shareholders who don’t participate will be diluted by 25%.

The rights issue is from October 28 to November 9. It will be followed by a rump issue that will be from November 12 to 16 November in which shares not taken up in the rights issue will be offered to through a private placement to qualified institutional investors at Nairobi’s NSE.  Results will be announced a week after and the new shares admitted on the Rwanda Stock Exchange, with a cross-listing on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, on November 30. 

The target is 70% success with the 155.56 million being taken up worth Rwf 42 billion. In the event of an over-subscription, the rights issue has no green-shoe option and refunds will be done. In a statement released today, Kenya’s Capital markets Authority confirmed approval of the listing at Nairobi with an estimate that 40% of the funds will be raised through the rump issue. 

BK Group advisors are Renaissance Capital (Rwanda) as the lead transaction advisor, BK Capital – sponsoring broker and registrars, Trust Law Chambers as legal advisors, PricewaterhouseCoopers as reporting accountants, Bank of Kigali is the receiving bank and Hope Holdings are the PR & Marketing Advisors. The rights issue will cost Rwf 1.72 billion comprising Rwf 526 million transaction advisor fees and Rwf 900 million as placement commission (1.5% payment to authorized agents who are BK Capital, CDH Capital, SBG Securities, Faida Securities,  Baraka Capital, Core Securities, African Alliance Rwanda and MBEA Brokerage). Other fees are Rwf 90 million to the RSE, 39 million legal advisory and Rwf 22 million each for reporting accountants, receiving bank, sponsoring stockbroker and also for media and advertising.

$1 = Rwf  873, 1 Kshs = Rwf  8.58

EDIT Nov 23 results : Rights issue announced uptake was 43% with 104 million of the offered 222 million shares subscribed for, raising ~$31 million. And following the rump offer, by institutional investors, who oversubscribed for the shares and took up took up 136 million shares for ~$41 million, the total issue performance has been recorded at 107% and the new shares will list on Nairobi and Kigali exchanges on November 30. 

EAVCA: Fintrek explores Fintech opportunities in East Africa

This week, the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) with Intellecap Advisory Services released the Fintrek – which explores fintech opportunities in East Africa, new frontiers in fintech (defined as firms using technology to deliver financial products/services or capabilities to customers or others firms) and fintech investments in East Africa.

Asia Pacific and Africa have been harbingers of mobile payments and that is transitioning into fintech now. The Fintrek report notes three underlying factors driving fintech uptake as:

  • (i) the use of alternative data to generate credit takings of the unbanked (and deliver services to them cheaply e.g no need for bank branches),
  • (ii) peer to peer networks (decentralized collaboration, payments across borders, unregulated) and
  • (iii) the emergence of nontraditional players (telcos, wallets like Google Pay & Apple Pay, e-retailers like Amazon)

smartphones offer fintech opportunities.

Regionally, Kenya is seen as a leader in the region owing to its levels of deposit penetration, deep financial sector penetration, and smartphone ownership (at 44% compared to less than 10% for Tanzania Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia). Kenya is where most fintechs are setting up, and Kenya-based fintechs have raised $204 million between 2000 and 2017 which is 98% of the funding to the region.

Funding: In terms of funding, fintechs are still in early stages as seen in the small deal sizes: seed funding provided 47 deals (averaging $447,000) and 60% of all funding was to impact areas renewable energy/off grid lighting and health care (microinsurance). Five companies M-KOPA, Off-Grid Electric, SunFunder, Angaza, Azuri) have raised $345 million (through debt and equity) accounting for 55% of the funding between 2010 and 2017. Another finding was that while 53% of all funding between 2010 and 2017 was from venture capital funds, their average deal size  ($6 million – e.g. from Apis, Madison Dearborn)  is lower than those of corporates ($15 million – e.g. from Stanbic, Commercial Bank of Africa) and foundations ($10 million – e.g. from Calvert, Emerson, Omidyar Network) deals.

Fintechs needs a balance of debt and equity investments to grow, but they are struggling to get debt financing (mainly bank loans). Fintechs in East Africa had debt-equity ratios of 1:1 compared to 3:1 globally, indicating they have capacity to absorb more debt but are not doing it. The EAVCA report cites one of the funding challenges as investors want proof of traction while fintechs need working capital to demonstrate proof of concept, lack of funder knowledge about local markets, East Africa fintechs don’t look like what foreign investors expect, currency fluctuations make it had to raise debt and there is a lack of fundraising skill among local fintechs who can’t afford the teams that will enable them to raise money.

The Fintrek report identified 11 fintech opportunities models and 47 sub-models and identified 4 sub-models that have flourished in East Africa:

Payments and Savings: digital wallets (M-Pesa, Alipay, Tigo pesa – which pays 7-9% interest and now attract high-end users), payment intermediaries (Cellulant, Direct Pay, Jambopay) and digital currencies (Bitpesa, Coinbase, Belfrics – a crypto-currency platform).

Lending: direct lending (Branch, Tala – with 1.8M customers in Kenya, Kreditech, Umati capital), P2P lending (Lendable, Pezesha – has 6,000 borrowers & 200 lenders), and lending aggregators (lakompare). Also, there is telco-based nano lending (M-Shwari, KCB-M-Pesa, Equitel – which issued $57 billion worth of loans – and telco-bank lenders in Kenya account for over 76% of total loan accounts, but only 4% of the loan values)

Financial Management: Insuretech (Bimaspace, BimaAfya, Microensure), Investech (Abacus, Xeno) and personal finance management – (Chamasoft, Caytree).

FS Enablers: (Jumo – credit underwriting for 5 million customers and 20 million loans), Arifu, FirstAccess, NetGuardian – fraud identifier), FarmDrive, Sasa solutions, Lendddo).

Some recent fintech deals in East Africa include Farmdrive (from the Safaricom Spark Fund), Pezesha (DFS lab), Pula (DFS lab, CGAP), M-Kopa ($80M – Stanbic, CDC, FMO, Norfund), Tala ($30M – IVP), Jumo ($24M – Finnfund), Mobisol ($12M – FinnFund), Angaza ($10.5M – Emerson), Flutterwave ($10M – Greycroft), Netguardian ($8.5M – Freemont), Trine ($8M – Gullspang), Lendable ($6M – Kawisafi, Omidyar, Fenway), Direct Pay ($5M – Apis), Azuri ($5M – Standard Chartered), Bitpesa ($4.25M – Greycroft), Branch ($2M – from high-networth Kenyans and funds – arranged by Nabo Capital)

Production of the Fintrek report was supported by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

See more of the EAVCA Fintrek report and other fintech opportunities at the 5th Sankalp Africa Summit on March 1-2, 2018 in Nairobi and see their private equity snapshot report.

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RwandAir applies for US Flights

RwandAir, which is 99% owned by the Government of Rwanda, plans to start US flights, by applying to the US Department of Transportation for the right to fly passengers and cargo between Kigali and JFK airport (New York) from August 2018 using Airbus A330.

The government has designated RwandAir as its international services carrier and the application for US flights also has letters of support from the Rwanda Embassy in Washington, the Rwanda Minister of Finance who writes that the government has supported the airline since its inception in 2002 and support continues to be budgeted for each year.

The application includes three years of audited financial statements. For 2016, the airline’s revenue was $99 million (and this has gone up from $64 million in 2013). Expenses in 2016 included direct expenses of $115 million, staff of $11 million, and finance costs of $15 million –  for a loss before tax of $54 million that was then offset by a government grant of $53 million. Other government grants are cited including $56 million in 2015 and a $28 million in 2014. The application notes that the airline has no financial projections for the first twelve months of operation on the proposed US flights route and requests exemption from providing that (as have been granted to other carriers)

The RwandAir balance sheet at the time (June 2016) was $238 million – but this was before the arrival of new aircraft in an expansion program that included two Airbus A330, and 4 Boeing 737 next generation (NG).  The fleet is now 2 A330, 2 737-800, 2 CRJ-900 and a Bombardier Q400, and RwandAir also leases 3 other Boeing 737 and another Q400. By the end of  2017, RwandAir plans to have 18 aircraft which will include four more  Airbus A330’s.

RwandAir flies to 19 destinations but plans to add China, Germany, and the US flights. Plans to fly to Britain and India are included in the application, and these flights have already started in 2017. RwandAir has codeshare partnerships with Turkish, SN Brussels, Ethiopian, South African, Proflight (Zambia) and Precision (Tanzania) airlines and the application also lists technical and maintenance support partners for their aircraft including Lufthansa for the Airbus A330 and Ethiopian for the B737 NG.

RwandAir has only had one fatal incident; with a wet-leased Jetlink Kenya plane that hit a terminal building while taxiing out of Kigali in 2009 – it resulted in one fatality. After this, they canceled the wet-lease and invested in their own fleet