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[May 22, 2014]
Banks Secure Rwf3.3 Billion Credit to Fund Farmers, Businesswomen
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Efforts geared at increasing access to finance and telecom services in Rwanda have got a boost following a deal signed between AB Bank Rwanda and Urwego Opportunity Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Tuesday.
The agreement worth billions of francs will see AB Bank Rwanda and Urwego Opportunity Bank secure Rwf1.7b and Rwf1.6b funding, respectively, to take bank services to the unbanked masses, mainly farmers, start-up businesses and women entrepreneurs.
The financier also signed a $25m facility with IHS Rwanda, a telecom infrastructure company, to expand the reach of the existing telecommunications networks in the country.
"IFC seeks to support companies in Africa that share our vision for locally-driven growth. Our investments in AB Bank, Urwego Opportunity Bank and IHS Rwanda will increase access to finance for entrepreneurs and expand Rwanda's telecommunication network, both of which are essential for economic growth," said Jean-Philippe Prosper, the IFC vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
AB Bank started operations in Rwanda in January and expects to expand services to over 25,000 customers in micro, small-and-medium enterprises and low-income households.
On the other hand, the IFC first invested in Urwego Opportunity Bank in 2010 and the bank now has an outstanding portfolio of over $14m benefitting over 40,000 micro-finance clients.
John Rwangombwa, the governor of the National Bank of Rwanda said by borrowing in local currency, businesses were protected from currency exchange risks.
Kunle Iluyemi, the IHS Rwanda managing director, said the funding will enable them to put up more towers in the country in order for telecom firms to increase mobile phone penetration and offer better services. IHS Rwanda recently completed the takeover of the towers of telecom company MTN Rwanda.
Currently, only about 65 per cent of Rwandans have access to cellular technology compared to the 84 per cent average across Africa.
Copyright The New Times. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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