How Rwanda Will Benefit From Hosting Pan African Export Fund

Source: The New Times Rwanda

The Afreximbank officially launched its domiciled Fund for Export Development in Africa (FEDA) in Kigali, on March 20, an impetus to the country’s positioning as a financial hub and an active participant of intra-African trade.

FEDA was established to tackle Africa’s $110 billion financing gap for intra-African trade, value-added export development, and industrialization value chains.

Rwanda became the first among 15 African nations to ratify its establishment agreement, and is now hosting the $1 billion African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Adjustment Fund managed by FEDA.

As the country continues to attract international financial institutions through different initiatives like the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC), greater benefits can only be expected, with significant economic impact.

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that the fund will bring about change to the current imbalance of the intra-African trade exports accounting for around 17 percent of Africa’s total exports.

He indicated that goods and services flow more rapidly to other continents, leaving untapped opportunities within Africa’s backyards. This, he said, ought to change.

Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Boards of Afreximbank and FEDA, emphasized that Rwanda is poised to benefit significantly whereby the fund will boost local industrial activities, create domestic value chains, and elevate the country’s preparedness to harness the benefits of AfCFTA.

“On the heels of the various support provided by Afreximbank to Rwanda’s public and private sector entities, a number of investments are being processed across many sectors and industries,” he said.

Afreximbank has made equity investments amounting to over $50 million in Rwanda across multiple sectors ranging from transport and trade, logistics, and manufacturing, to agro-processing, and power generation.

In the past, the bank has invested about $400 million in Rwandan entities, Oramah said.

FEDA seeks to enable Africa to assume control of its financial system, and by providing equity funding, it equips African entrepreneurs with the capacity to acquire subsidiaries or foreign international banks exiting the continent.

“This is an essential move as it hands the African financial systems to Africans and allows them to channel their capital to pro-goods sectors of the economy,” Oramah noted.

FEDA will achieve this by bringing together investment partners and financial institutions.

Francis Gatare, Chief Executive of Rwanda Development Bank (RDB), said the country has already witnessed the fund’s impact with the investment in AriseIIP, a Pan-African company building Bugesera Special Economic Zone, and potential partnership with Liquid Telecom operations in Rwanda.

“We want to continue welcoming these investments in our country and by extension across the continent. FEDA is aligned with Rwanda’s objectives to address constraints that hinder intra-African trade and exports growth,” he said.

Key sectors FEDA aims to focus on include agri-business, manufacturing, consumer and retail, financial services, technology, travel and tourism, transport and logistics, and industrial parks.

Speaking to The New Times, Herbert Asiimwe, Head of Financial Sector Development at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said that having Afrexim’s FEDA domicile the fund in Rwanda brings enormous benefits to the country.

“This includes improving our balance in forex and dealing better against depreciation. The presence of FEDA offers more financing avenues to our private sector who can now easily access more capital,” he noted.

According to Marlene Ngoyi, FEDA’s Chief Executive Officer, the Fund has already deployed $300 million in strategic investment across Africa and seeks to further accelerate fund deployment in the near future.

“We offer equity-like instruments tailored to finance businesses and all stages of development from startup to mature enterprises as well as make investments in critical sectors such as telecommunication, energy, agro, processing, and refactoring industrial parks,” she said.

However, Ngoyi highlighted that the fund’s vision extends beyond traditional sectors, to nurturing Africa’s creative industry through establishing funds to harness Africa’s rich cultural heritage and creative talents.

FEDA has been raising needed funding since it was launched. Funds Under Management now amount to about $800 million some of which the Fund is using to create and mobilize additional funds, according to Afreximbank.

FEDA became the fund manager of the $1 billion African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Adjustment Fund in 2023.

More on Rwanda: President of Rwanda: Africa needs to build manufacturing capacities to invest in its natural resources, achieve independence

THE AUTHOR: Alice Kagina

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