Category Archives: Business

MOBISOL acquires payment service provider to expand off-grid solar commercialization

Mobisol, a solar electrification company, yesterday announced  it has acquired Lumeter, one of the largest providers of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) software for the off-grid solar industry.

The solar energy company said the acquisition creates strong synergies between Lumeter and Mobisol’s software for pay-as-you-go services  as  it creates an unrivaled player with strong pricing power, expertise in the metering sector for stand-alone solar systems and mini-grid solutions.

“While pay-as-you-go software pioneers like Lumeter and Angaza Design have very successfully paved the way to meet consumer needs, we will now be able to take this approach to a new level, offering opportunities to manufacturers and distributors on a larger scale” said Stefan Zelazny, Chief Innovation Officer at Mobisol. “We are able to provide a hardware agnostic software suite that makes major consumer and commercial implementations possible. We see the Lumeter acquisition as a key step in our plan to expand the pay-as-you-go market for Mobisol, its off-grid partners and other technologies beyond solar.”

Furthermore, the platform  has the ability to deliver PAYG functionalities for large productive use systems to underserved areas of the world.

Mobisol has installed nearly 10 megawatts of capacity in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, providing clean and reliable electricity to households and small businesses in low-income communities.

Following this acquisition, the Mobisol platform now supports more than 500,000 people globally with access to clean, reliable and affordable power.

It is estimated that approximately 2 billion people worldwide live without a reliable electricity source to meet their daily energy needs and are forced to turn to unhealthy and environmentally harmful alternatives such as kerosene lanterns and generators.

Mobisol estimates that its software saves up to 80% in daily operations. Through a comprehensive feature set, like automated invoicing, remote monitoring to reinforce payments, complete control of the supply chain from production facilities to sales outlets, and automated credit checks, overhead is reduced and digitalization of operations possible.

Mitra Ardron, founder of Lumeter, added: “I am glad to see Lumeter’s technology developed further with Mobisol. By bringing together the customers, hardware, and back-end solutions of the two leading companies in PAYG, we will bring new advantages to all of our partners.“

Lumeter brings proven pay-as-you-go software for the off-grid solar market that taps into existing micro-finance systems to bring affordable solar power to millions of households without other options.

Mobisol  said it  is now in a position to offer the most complete solution, including hardware, software and operational expertise, for off-grid solar pay-as-you-go power for large consumer uses as well as commercial systems (up to 600Wp).

In addition, the solar energy player said the acquisition achieves short-term cost savings as well other long-term strategic opportunities for growth and new revenue opportunities.

 

 

New Rwaza 1 Hydropower Plant in Musanze Begins Construction

Rwanda’s minister of infrastracture James Musoni with US ambassador Barks-Ruggles during the plant launch in Musanze,northern Rwanda

Musanze, Rwanda – On June 21st, 2017 the Minister of Infrastructure James Musoni, U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles, German Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Peter Woeste and other project partners visited and celebrated the construction of the Rwaza I hydropower plant in Northern Rwanda.

The hydropower plant was developed in part thanks to a grant provided by the United States Government’s Power Africa initiative. When completed, the hydropower plant will provide reliable, affordable electricity into the Rwandan national grid. The project will produce approximately 20 Gigawatt hours of electricity each year, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of approximately 20,000 Rwandan households.

The hydropower plant is expected to provide approximately 2 percent of the total electricity produced in the country, and will stabilize the local grid—improving power supply to local business and industries.

“American companies are at the forefront of helping Rwanda meet its energy needs and are driving investment in all energy sectors, including methane gas, off grid solar, and the mini-hydro sector,” said Ambassador Barks-Ruggles. “I am excited about the progress we have made over the past couple of years and the potential for further U.S. investment and engagement through the Power Africa initiative to help Rwanda meet its energy needs.”

“The Power Plant we are launching today might be small in size, but we have no doubt that even the 2.6 MW to be produced at Rwaza-Muko HydroPower Plant will greatly contribute to our bold vision. This project could not have come at a more opportune time, as we project our energy demand to soar from the current 208 MW installed capacity to a projected 570 MW by June 2024,” said Minister James  Musoni.

“Together, we have reached an important milestone in the development and implementation of this project,” said Chad Bannick, CEO of DC HydroPower. “As developers and investors in the energy sector, we are thankful to be part of Rwanda’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gasses and provide clean, renewable energy to the people of Rwanda.”

Power Africa Coordinator Andrew Herscowitz congratulated the groundbreaking of the project by stating, “This deal shows how the private sector and government can work together in Rwanda to get a deal across the finish line. The Rwaza 1 Hydropower Plant is another example of how the private sector can drive power generation and development throughout Africa.”

The construction of this new hydropower plant directly supports the Rwandan Government’s goal of providing 70 percent of its population with access to electricity by 2018. They also advance the objectives of Power Africa (U.S. Government-led electricity access initiative) and KfW (Germany’s government-owned development bank) in addressing one of the most pressing challenges to sustainable economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa – access to reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity.

“Rwanda needs more energy. And Germany believes in the future of clean and affordable energy. This project can be a perfect role model to link these needs and aspirations. As discussed at the G20 recently, we see the necessity to discuss innovative financing solutions. This project would fit perfectly into the new development approach. The German government’s bank, KfW, established “rAREH”, an investment fund to develop and operate renewable energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. This fund is open for private investors to join us, to multiply funds,” said the German Ambassador to Rwanda Dr. Peter Woeste

 Rwaza I am a 2.6 megawatt run-of-the-river hydropower plant located in the Rwaza Sector on the Mukungwa River, in Musanze District. The firm DC HydroPower identified and developed the project through the feasibility stage and the signing of a power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy Group. The firms Frontier Energy and ResponsAbility Renewable Energy Holding joined DC HydroPower as investment partners during the final stages of development.

Construction of the plant began in January 2017 and is expected to last 18 months, after which the plant will be operational. Rwaza 1, along with the nearby 4 megawatt Nyundo hydropower plant, received assistance from U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) —a Power Africa partner agency—during the development phase to complete the feasibility study. The Nyundo project is being developed by Amahoro Energy, a Rwandan company with US investors formed to electrify the Shyira Hospital, which serves more than 300,000 people, and is expected to commence construction on October 2017 and reach commercial operations by December 2018.

 

USAID Launches Rwf 17.2 Billion Program to Boost Youth Employment

KIGALI – On June 13th, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a 17.2 billion Rwandan Franc initiative, called Huguka Dukore, to train 40,000 Rwandan youth in workforce readiness skills by 2021.

USAID hosted a launch event for Huguka Dukore at the Kimisagara Youth Empowerment for Global Opportunities (YEGO) Center in Kigali, Rwanda. Attendees included Government of Rwanda ministers, the United States Ambassador to Rwanda, the Mission Director of USAID/Rwanda, and partners from the education, business, and private sectors.

Huguka Dukore, which means “Get Trained and Let’s Work!” in Kinyarwanda, targets Rwandan youth 16 to 30 years old who have between six and nine years of basic education. Huguka Dukore will connect its over 40,000 participants with relevant job skills training, so they can find stable employment, start their own small businesses, or pursue further education.

The training provided by Huguka Dukore includes work-based learning and internship opportunities, links to jobs and self-employment, entrepreneurship training and coaching, and access to financing, family planning, and reproductive health services. Hukuka Dukore will be implemented by the Education Development Center (EDC) over five years.

At the launch event, the U.S. Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles emphasized the importance the U.S. government places on partnering with Rwanda to ensure its youth have the opportunity and skills needed to drive economic development and build their future. She stressed the importance of partnering with the private sector and civil society to accomplish the goals of the program. “We are here today to embark on this partnership because we recognize the importance of youth in the future of Rwanda’s continued prosperity,” she said. “Together we can achieve our ambitious targets and reach our goal of a strong, vibrant and flourishing Rwanda for many years to come!”

The Minister of State in charge of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Olivier Rwamukwaya, was the guest of Honor at the Launch. He emphasized the importance of this program in contributing to Rwanda’s development goals, particularly the “Made in Rwanda” policy and the National Employment Program’s goal of creating at least 200,000 jobs per year.

The launch event was preceded by a miniature exposition of Huguka Dukore’s activities, vision, and goals. Rwandan youth expressed their aspirations and expectations from Huguka Dukore, particularly their hope to be linked further training, coaching, and employment opportunities in Huguka Dukore’s growing network of partners.

African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) officially open for business in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe

 
 
NAIROBI, Kenya. At a press conference, the CEO of the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) (www.ATI-aca.org), George Otieno, along with H.E. Dina Mufti, the Ethiopian Ambassador and Gabriel Negatu, Regional Director, African Development Bank announced today that it is ready to begin covering transactions in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. After a year-long process that was supported with funds from the African Development Bank, both countries are now members.

The announcement will give investors crucial comfort to start or continue doing business in these countries.

ATI was established in 2001 by African governments and a range of other shareholders to ease the concerns of investors by providing a range of investment and political risk insurance products.

In the case of Ethiopia, one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, ATI will help the country maintain its status as one of Africa’s biggest success stories.

The $66 billion economy has been expanding as much as 10.3 percent annually over recent years, according to the International Monetary Fund, with a dip to 6.5 percent last year due to drought. Ethiopia has also been successful in attracting large manufacturers such as Unilever NV, Diageo Plc and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and has taken the lead in export of agricultural products.

For Zimbabwe, membership in ATI would give a boost to the country’s quest to attract foreign direct investments.

“I have no doubt that our membership will contribute to Zimbabwe’s current efforts to reduce the cost of doing business by making political risk and credit insurance, as well as non-payment and FDI cover readily available to exporters, importers and investors,” noted Industry & Commerce Minister Mike Bimha.

He also noted that his office had been inundated with inquiries from the private sector and potential investors on how they could access ATI’s insurance services.

“The African Development Bank is pleased to have financed Ethiopia and Zimbabwe’s membership into ATI. The affiliation with ATI will attract prospective investors with additional guarantees to participate in the priority areas of powering & lighting, feeding, industrializing and integrating both countries. It will also help improve the livelihood of millions of Ethiopians and Zimbabweans,” noted Gabriel Negatu, African Development Bank’s Regional Director.

In both countries, ATI has a current project pipeline estimated at over one billion USD, which is expected to double in the short-term based on existing demand for its products. Prospective projects include a 400 MW solar energy plant in Ethiopia that would contribute to the country’s carbon neutral growth plan to improve the living conditions of its citizens. And in Zimbabwe, ATI is considering a line of credit targeting commercial banks that will allow them to increase their lending volumes.

“I believe our entry into Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, particularly at this time, sends a powerful message to investors. Our presence signals that both countries are open for business because we are standing beside them as a credible and internationally-respected insurer with an ‘A’ rating from S&P. This should be positive news to anyone interested in doing business in the either country,” noted Mr. Otieno, ATI’s Chief Executive Officer.

ATI provides political, investment and trade credit risk insurance and surety bonds to clients doing business in its member countries. The products are created to help countries attract more investments and to promote domestic trade by providing insurance that mitigates against sovereign risks and specifically, currency inconvertibility and exchange transfer, expropriation, trade embargoes, non-honouring of contracts and payment default risks among others.

Rwanda launches campaign to boost domestic tourism

shores-of-lake-kivu-viewed-from-lochel-resort-a-very-beautiful-area-witha-a-beach-where-visitors-play-volley

Photo:shores of lake Kivu, one of Rwanda’s attractions- a view from a guest house in western Rwanda.

The Rwanda Development Board  has announced the launch of the Tembera U Rwanda campaign, aimed at motivating Rwandans to explore their own country and put the spotlight on domestic travel. The launch will take place on Friday, 30th September to 1st October, 2016 with a tour through the cultural heritage corridor with stop overs at different sites from Kigali to Huye District.

On the itinerary of the launch, several activities will be organized along the cultural corridor to give participants a glimpse into Rwanda’s rich cultural history. These include storytelling at Ijuru rya Kamonyi in Kamonyi District, Kankazi site, Urutare rwa Kamegeri in Ruhango District, historic tours of Nyagakecuru and Ibisi bya Huye. The tour will conclude with live cultural entertainment by the renowned all-female drumming troupe Ingoma Nshya atop Mount Huye.

Speaking at the press conference, the Chief Tourism Officer of RDB, Belise Kariza said; “The domestic tourism campaign is our call to residents to be active participants in the growth of the tourism sector by consuming local products and most importantly by contributing to the country’s brand. I appeal to the private sector to provide both tour packages and special accommodation rates for the domestic market especially at this time.”

Tembera U Rwanda phase 2, will take place for a period of 3 months from October to December, 2016. This campaign is characterized by bus trips for lucky trivia winners who will have a chance to travel free of charge to attraction sites around Rwanda. For the general public, participation will be on a first come, first served basis and registration will be done through the tourism reservations and sales offices around the country.

Kariza added that; “Rwanda is one of the most acclaimed destinations in Africa and it should be appreciated by its residents. With reduced rates for Rwandans and road access to every tourism destination, we invite Rwandans to bear witness to the remarkable experience we sell to the international market.”

She concluded that domestic tourism is a worthwhile investment without regret and the opportunity to discover the country as a tourist is one that should be accessible to all. This supports the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day ‘Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility’; a day observed annually on 27 September in recognition of tourism’s contribution towards economic growth. Rwanda will commemorate the holiday in tandem with the launch of the domestic tourism campaign.

The Rwanda Development Board acknowledged support from partners namely the Southern Province, Kamonyi, Ruhango, Muhanga, Nyanza and Huye Districts; the Mountain Climbers Club, the Tourism Chamber, the Guides Association, local tour operators and transport companies that are partnering in this initiative.

Coffee exports rise in Rwanda

Statistics released by the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) show, Rwanda exported 17.3 million kilogrammes of coffee between January and November of last year, a rise of 14 percent compared to the same time period in 2014.

However, despite the healthy growth in exports, revenues only increased by 0.58 percent. The sale of coffee brought in $56.3 million to the country’s economy last year, up slightly from the $56 million gained two years ago.

NAEB  has  attributed this modest rise to the poor state of the global coffee market that has  experienced  low prices  in recent months.

Nairobi to host African e-health accelerator

A new tech accelerator that will be established early next year in Nairobi is expected to provide mentorship and investment opportunities to promising African e-health care start-ups, boost digital health innovations across the continent.
Ampion, an organization that supports African tech start-ups in partnership with Merck, a pharmaceutical company hope to boost innovation in Health care sector across Africa by opening a specialized Tech health accelerator.
“It’s really about finding start-ups in healthcare space that have two goals: on the one hand to generate profits, on the other hand touch the lives of at least 100 million people,” told The East African recently Fabian Carlos Guhl, founder of Ampion
In Africa, technology is being used to develop mobile and web apps that have the potential to revolutionize healthcare sector, by using technological innovation to address public health gaps such as doctors’ shortage and lack of health facilities.
Medroid is an e-Health platform used in rural Tanzania that enables patients to connect to professional health care providers from wherever they are by combining Micro-phone lens hardware and a mobile application to provide medical solutions.
The app could make healthcare accessible in rural areas, where there are few medical practitioners.
Medroid features include clinical diagnosis service which targets physicians with a working knowledge. It’s a quick diagnosis service that that provides practical, expert, as well as immediate access to patients’ diagnosis results.
Successful Start-ups that are already generating revenues, have a prototype and need money to grow faster will join the initial program in the tech hub. They will receive USD 25.000, USD 50.000 investment and mentoring.
Thirty-one sub-Saharan, African countries have 10 or less medical doctors per 100,000 people. This means mobile technology can be used to increase access to health practitioners.
App development and deployment requires funds and skills to get ideas off ground, scale up innovations generate revenues.
According to Guhl, financial resources, human capital, markets that still need to be developed are the main challenges app developers face.
M-Tiba, is an early stage start up that hope to close medical gap through mobile technologies.
Its healthcare app will be used to help people with least access to health care to get “easy access” to doctor’s consultation via a web platform in Rwanda, Tanzania and Nigeria.
“Our solutions is an online platform to collect patients data, anyone who feels ill will go to an online platform talk to doctors who will be available, “explained Thibault Mutabazi,the co-founder ,” as he keeps using the application he[patient] will have medical history online,”
The app is still at development stage.
In East Africa Ampion program dubbed” Bus Venture” has generated 20 start-ups, but only 2 are currently running.
Muvidaba , one of them based in Kisumu and Nairobi currently developing a mobile app that is directory of medicine..
There are business opportunities for innovators in health care sector in Africa. Aaron Fun, managing partner at Nest ,a venture capital company that invests in early stage startups, says Health Tech is a particularly attractive sector in Africa with a large underserved population.
“There is strong opportunity to develop Health Tech that brings access to basic healthcare, emergency services, pharmaceuticals to geographically dispersed populations. “ He said
M –Pharma is another e-health app startup co-founded by Gregory Rockson, a Ghanaian entrepreneur, the app connects patients, clinicians and pharmacists to find quality medicines at real time and where they are needed most in Ivory Coast and Zambia.
According to Rockston, 1000 patients received their prescriptions through the application in Zambia.
The data generated anonymously by application users is analyzed and collected to build the comprehensive pharmaceutical data platform which can be used in other countries.
Nairobi has become one of large Tech hubs in Africa, known for its incubators and accelerators that provide space for innovators.
Mr. Guhly revealed the upcoming health tech accelerator recently at the end of East African Venture bus tour a tech hub in Kigali.
Experts say Apps that are scalable have the potential to attract investments.
According to Fu, African app developers can attract investments the same way the rest of the world do.
“By building a strong team with relevant experience to execute, a precisely defined CVP (revenue equation where Profits = Sales – Variable Costs – Fixed Costs) and a thought-through and comprehensive go to market strategy,” explained the managing Partner, Vest Africa

Cost of Living rises in Rwanda as Consumer Prices Index go up

In recent months the cost of living has risen as reflected in the last Consumer Price Index released National Institute of Statistics.
According to Rwanda’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), main measure of inflation; prices have risen to 0.9 percent year on year in April 2015, up from 0.8 percent in March 2015.
The publican focuses on urban Consumer price Index calculated based on approximately 1022 products in twelve urban centers from Rwanda. The CPI is released in the wake of an increase of oil prices announced by Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The urban CPI increased by 0, 9 percent on annual basis and increase by 0,8 percent on a monthly basis. The annual average rate between April 2015 and April 2014 is 1.1 percent.
According to Minicom, statement the current price of oil is Frw 840 per litre.Minicom says the increase is attributed to global oil prices increase observed since February.Minicom adds that since then the prices have increased 40%.
Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana,an economist analyst and authors of publications on price volatility and market analysis says ,the CPI increase is somehow strong and will likely go up as fuel prices have increased again.
According to National Institute of Statistics, the price increase is mainly attributed to rising prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages 2,5 percent , housing ,water ,electricity and other fuel prices 2,9 percent.
The biggest negative contribution to CPI increase came from ‘Transport’0,7 percent.Habyarimana says the slight change on global oil prices will likely affect price of imported fuel.
“The transport cost increase caused by global oil prices fluctuations affect many others product prices since our economy depend on imports,” explain Habyarimana
As Rwandan economy depends largely on import,Habyarimana says prices will continue to go up since local currency is weak against US Dollars. “The BNR can’t intervene on exchange rates.”
Jean-Christian Hahirwa, a resident of Kigali, says if prices continue to rise, life will become hard and will seek others ways of generating income in addition to his monthly salary.
According to Habyarimana, CPI rise will impact national economy negatively on saving reduction as more consumers will reduce saving, thus will reduce local investment.
The increase of food prices in recent months was attributed to bad weather.
One of monetary policies BNR adopt to curb inflation is raising interests’ rates to commercial banks so as to reduce the quantity of money in circulation.
Urban CPI is very useful to measure cost of living and inflation since most products are consumed in urban areas.
The weakening Rwandese franc against US Dollars also explains CPI increases since national economy depends largely on imports. Explained Habyarimana
“My purchasing power will reduce as my salary will remain constant despite price increases of commodities and products I consume.” added Hahirwa“I will change my spending habit by reducing expenses but there are still certain needs I have to satisfy “.
The urban CPI increased by 0.9 percent in April 2015 compared to the same month previous year.
“I may also work extra hours to increase my income.” the Kigali resident said
CPI reads in April 2015, ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ 2.5 percent and ‘Housing water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ 2.9 percent while transport decreased by 3.8 percent.
Figures also show the “local goods” increased by 1.5 percent on annual change and increased by 1.0 percent on a monthly basis, while prices of the “imported products” decreased by 0.3 percent on annual basis and was stable on a monthly basis.
The monthly change in CPI is 0,8 percent compared to March 2015.’Food and non- alcoholic beverages increased by 2.8 percent.
The prices of the “fresh products” decreased by 0.1 percent between April 2015 and April 2014. While the overall Rwanda CPI increased by 1.2 on annual bases, and increased by 2.0 percent on a monthly basis.
“The consumer bears all costs, for instance policymakers can’t intervene on salaries of consumers by increasing them when prices go up,” commented the economic analyst told Rwanda

The importance of business and professional networking

‘Networking’ means forming business connections and contacts through informal meetings. Business and professional networking serves many purposes: general marketing, sales, recruiting, job-hunting, knowledge exchange, and business development.

A saying goes: “It is not what you know but who you know.” The good jobs and business deals come from connections. Networking will make you develop lasting, dependable and equally valuable relationships with other professionals and entrepreneurs.

There are many events that can be used as networking opportunities, including, among others: conferences, workshops, meetings, and parties. When a professional, entrepreneur or even student attends those events it is most likely that they will meet likeminded people with whom they can first exchange contacts and develop dependable relationships for their respective business’ or career’s growth.

Last year I attended a friend’s goodbye party where I met a medical student from Germany who had just arrived in Rwanda for an internship. The student asked me to help him improve his basic Kinyarwanda and brief him about the Kigali lifestyle. During that event he also met a compatriot from his hometown.

In addition to the above mentioned advantages, a business person can find potential clients for their products and services. If you are unemployed it is also possible to meet potential employers who are looking for your qualifications.

Kiki Mwobobia is a magazine editor from Kenya. She says that she uses LinkedIn, a social media website for professional and business networking.

“The organization I work at sponsors events too and people from around the country plus professionals attend the talks offered. I use this platform to interact with them and acquire information that could help me in my career,” adds Kiki.

The Internet has made networking easy and fast. It is only a click away, and you meet professionals and business community members from around the world.

Some of the most used websites include LinkedIn.com, mentioned above. It is a social media platform for professionals, graduates and business people, it helps its users to network and join discussion groups where they talk about issues related to their careers.

AfricaAlumni.com is a global network for African professionals and entrepreneurs. It publishes career resources and articles for career development. It also posts job adverts primarily located in Africa, and has a business directory that enables users to advertise their businesses to a global audience. You can also find a mentor through this website.

Linda Bach is a newspaper journalist from Kenya who networks through social media, mostly Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

“I have gained a lot from Facebook. There was this time I learnt about a workshop in Ghana on the International journalists network (IJnet) Facebook page. I applied and was picked…it was a worthwhile experience because I met journalists who I network with to date,” says Linda.

“I also network through KENSJa…an association of science journalists…Through this association I have attended various workshops that are beneficial to my career,” she adds.

Flavien Ngendahayo is a health worker and a university lecturer. He also networks mainly for his teaching, related research and others jobs he does parallel to his teaching position. He often uses the Internet to network.

Yves Nsengiyumva is a young business gentleman from Musanze in Rwanda’s Northern Province. He said in a phone interview that his networking strategy is getting brokers’ contacts. They help him find information he needs in his agricultural products sales business.

Business people, professionals and aspiring professionals alike should not underestimate networking because it will sooner or later advance their businesses and careers.

 

%d bloggers like this: