President Paul Kagame has presided over the launch of Equity Bank-led Kes6 billion Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan and the ground-breaking of one of its flagship projects.
The initiative is modeled to stimulate economic recovery of the continent’s agriculture, mining, manufacturing and logistics, trade, and investment, MSMEs, social and environmental transformation, and a technology-enabled environment.
By targeting five million businesses and 25 million individuals with financing and capacity building over the next five years, regional lender Equity Group expects to create roughly 50 million jobs across the region.
President Kagame toured Kigali International Financial Centre, a $100 million flagship project in the country’s financial services sector is billed to serve as the hub for the regional financial services ecosystem.
Other flagship projects that Equity has supported include mining, infrastructure development, agro-processing, and regional trade.
The Kigali Financial Square, under the Rwanda Finance Ltd Corporation seeks to position the country as the preferred financial hub for investments in Africa and is billed to play a key role in supporting the aspirations of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Rwanda is this week hosting Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) in the capital, Kigali.
Mr Kagame lauded Equity Group for supporting investments in Rwanda through financial intermediation.
Dr James Mwangi, Equity Group CEO said; “As the region recovers from the devastating health, social, humanitarian, and economic impacts of COVID-19, Equity Group is championing a private sector-focused stimulus package to accelerate recovery and resilience in the region.
“The plan targets financing of in-country manufacturing and regional supply chains to replace broken global supply chains following COVID-19 disruptions and the impact of the Russia/Ukraine war.”
The plan is already receiving backing from the IFC, AfDB, European Development Banks (Team Europe), the Commonwealth Secretariat, the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, the East Africa Community Secretariat, USAID, the United Nations, and the European Union, as well as alignment from the national governments of the six countries in which Equity Group operates.
Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of Rwanda Development Board said, “given that Rwanda envisions being an upper-middle-income country by 2035…, it requires taking bold steps to achieve this ambitious target. One such target is to diversify the financial sector and in so doing ‘catapult’ Rwanda, and Kigali in particular into the regional financial hub of choice.”
The plan has six strategic pillars that ensure a systematic and holistic framework for execution. In mining and agriculture, the lender will be focusing on coordinated, connected, and capacitated supply chains, and mechanization, driving higher throughput of raw materials and ultimately defining Africa’s industrialization.
Further, Equity Group says it will grow credit uptake with the loan book set to be directed to agriculture (30 percent), manufacturing (15 percent), and MSMEs (65 percent).
Under the manufacturing and logistics ecosystem, Equity says Africa has an opportunity to leverage off and expand existing productive capacities to industrialize by connecting to global value chains that are in the process of regionalizing and diversifying.
The trade and investment pillar seeks to provide access to new markets, technology, capital, and skills that will enrich and enhance the offtake of African products and services.
For MSMEs, the regional lender explains that the connectivity of small businesses into formal value chains will drive inclusive, broader, and more sustainable growth.
The bank seeks to drive social and environmental transformation by building the capacity of value chain stakeholders, especially amongst smallholder farmers and MSMEs will drive productivity gains in African value chains.
The plan is also billed to drive a technology-enabled economy where online businesses will accelerate connectivity in the regional business ecosystems, tapping into an estimated 100 million customers.