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March 26, 2007

Rwanda coffee company privatized, value-addition investments expected

Robert Hasson, a Belgian businessman, has acquired 100 per cent ownership of Rwandex, the biggest coffee processor and exporter in Rwanda. He had previously owned 29.38 per, making him the second largest shareholder after the government, which held 51 per cent. Other shares had been divided among seven shareholders, whom Hasson bought out.

Manasseh Twahirwa, an official of the country's privatization body, said it had taken a long while to hand over Rwandex to Hasson because “Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) had to first finalise assessment for the Financial Years 2003 and 2004. The new owner must have invested Frw1.4 billion (US$2.5 million) by 2010, and must comply with government policy of value addition and quality improvement through fully washed coffee and also add value to exported coffee and roasted coffee.”

Said Twahirwa, “We are happy that Rwandex privatisation is concluded and that the new investor is stabilising the financial position of the company. And we hope that he will continue the rehabilitation of the company especially by injecting fresh equity capital. The purchase agreement was good and the government stands to regulate and follow up if what is in the investment plan is followed, otherwise the government can re-own the company.”

He underscored that the move is a result of the government’s decision to detach itself from commercial activities in a bid to effectively regulate the private sector. However, after payment of 50 per cent of the Frw1 billion Rwandex loan due to Banque Populaires, the balance [Frw 500 million] was rescheduled for repayment over 4 years. Hasson will also have to Frw1.6 billion due
to Banque de Kigali (BK) in two years and Frw 2.7 billion to Cogeabanque. But he will have to collect Frw1.1 billion from debtors and also appeal to the RRA on some contentious issues.

In collaboration with Ocir Café, Rwandex established a system with five cooperatives of coffee washing stations in Shyolongi, Gakenke, Ntongwe and Rulindo to meet the target of 10 washing stations by the end of 2007. in 2006 Rwandex exported 8, 340 tonnes of coffee, of which only 145 tonnes, or two per cent, were fully washed.

New Times

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