Equity Bank Group is set to fund to a tune of $100 million the construction of Kigali Financial Towers through Equity Holding (EH) Venture Capital.
EH is the investment arm of the Nairobi-headquartered regional lender. The towers are some of the buildings of the Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) to host key financial institutions in the country including global investment banks that Rwanda is targeting to attract.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Tuesday in Kigali on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Business Forum and was officiated by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
“Rwanda has an ambition of becoming a financial hub and Equity’s transformational flagship projects are aligned to this agenda. Equity and all those investing in our country have our full support.
I assure all investors that every dollar you invest in Rwanda will pay back,” President Kagame said.
The project located in Kigali City centre is expected to be completed within two years.
Rwanda launched its ambition to build a financial hub in 2020 and hired international finance experts including Ivorian banking titan - Tidjane Thiam, ex-boss of Credit Suisse, who is currently the chairman of the board of Rwanda Finance, the company responsible for promoting and developing KIFC.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Business Forum, James Mwangi, the chairman of Equity Group, said the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the current economic and social order and its unsustainability.
“It demonstrated to the world how unstainable the world had been built. The business had lost trust with the host community; inequality had reached a level unprecedented in history. Globalisation, competitiveness, economies of scale; the theories upon which the world was being built have been put to question because, at the end of the day, it was all about availability,” Mr Mwangi said, adding that personal protective equipment (PPEs) and vaccines were not available in Africa when they were needed.
“The priority is to focus on agricultural productivity, let's convert Africa's arable land into productive agricultural land and hopefully stem the food inflation that has confronted the world,” he said.
KIFC announced in November 2021 the launch of the Virunga Africa Fund, an investment vehicle of $250 million focused on impact investing and jointly funded by the Qatar Investment Authority and the Rwanda Social Security Board.