By David Himbara
Calling himself a Rwandan billionaire, Kagame’s friend Ashish Thakkar says he is ready to manufacture smartphones in Rwanda and in South Africa. Thakkar says he will supply the African continent and even export his smartphones to Europe. To do this, the ”Rwandan” businessman claims he will invest in South Africa R1.5 billion or US$83 million over the next five years. This is how the story broke in South Africa:
”Developed by Rwandan businessman and billionaire Ashish Thakkar, the Mara group at the Africa Investment Forum announced ambitious plans to develop manufacturing plants in Rwanda and in South Africa…Thakkar announced that his company would be investing R1.5 billion in a South African venture over the next five years…The phones will also be exported and sold in Europe, making Mara a global player in the market.”
In reality, Ashish Thakkar is a Ugandan/British businessman who charmed Kagame — and took Rwanda by storm from 2014 onwards. Kagame soon made Thakkar an advisor and a member of his Presidential Advisory Council. Kagame then handed over to Thakkar and his partner, Bob Diamond, significant Rwandan public assets. The Rwandan ruler transferred part of Rwanda Development Bank and Banque Populaire du Rwanda (BPR) to the Atlas Mara group owned by Thakkar and Diamond. Thakkar subsequently resigned from Atlas Mara’s board in 2017. Will Thakkar manufacture smartphones in Rwanda and export them to Europe and elsewhere? We wait and see.