The proverb “don’t count chickens before they are hatched” is a warning not to plan anything that depends on what might happen in the future. If you do so, you might be disappointed.

When Rwanda loudly announces US$1.2billion of REGISTERED investment, that is exactly what the Kagame government is doing – counting the chickens before they are hatched!

I am writing about this in response to one of my readers that has taken me to task for stating that Rwanda attracts less foreign investment than its neighbours (except for Burundi). The reader is citing Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to dispute my writings – RDB reported on 10 July 2013 that it has registered over $1.2billion of investments in the first six months of this year.

My reader says that either I or RDB is not telling the truth.

Dear readers, I wish to use this case to further demonstrate how the Kagame government uses half-truths, omission, ambiguity, inaccuracy, and exaggerations to mislead Rwandans.


According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report for 2013, foreign investment into Rwanda between 2008-2012 were as follows:

* 2008 – US$103mil
* 2009 – US$119mil
* 2010 – US$82mil
* 2011 – US$106mil
* 2012 – US$160mil

With regards to overall foreign direct investment stock in Rwanda, it grew from US$33mil in 1990, US$55mil in 2000, and to US$743 million in 2012.

The World Bank data on foreign investment into Rwanda between 2008 and 2011 mirrors UNCTAD’s data is as follows:

* 2008 – US$131mil
* 2009 – US$118mil
* 2010 – US$42mil
* 2011 – US$106mil

As I have shown previously, compared to its neighbours, Rwanda does poorly in attracting foreign investment. In 2012, for example, Uganda drew in US$1.72bil foreign investment; Tanzania US$1.70bil; Kenya US$259mil. Only Burundi at US$1mil drew less foreign investment than Rwanda.


When RDB reports US$1.2billion of foreign investment in the first six months of 2013, the agency is using half-truths to mislead Rwandans.

The US$1.2billion HAS NOT been invested in Rwanda. As RDB itself says, this is the amount that HAS BEEN REGISTERED – BUT NOT INVESTED! What is the difference?

Here is the difference. When an investor expresses an interest for future investment in any country, he/she REGISTERS such interest and indicates the amount of money that he/she INTENDS to invest. It is like a PROMISE still subject to many eventualities. In other words, the REGISTERED interest may or may not materialise in future.

But even where a REGISTERED investment does materialise, there are complications that may significantly reduce the ammount of investment. Let us review a case of where in fact a REGISTERED interest for investment did materialise to illustrate the complexities involved – the case of ContourGlobal.

* 2009 was the year in which ContourGlobal REGISTERED its intention of making “the largest investment in Rwanda’s History” amounting to US$325 million that would prove 100 Megawatts from methane gas in Lake Kivu;

* 2010 was the projected year when the first phase of 25 MW would become operational;

* 2012 was the projected second phase when 75 MW would become operational;

We do know of course that by 2013, none of the above goals have been achieved; neither 25 MW in 2010, nor 75 MW in 2012 have materialised to-date.

The key question here is this: Did ContourGlobal actually invest the US$325 million REGISTERED in 2009?

The answer is NO! When a company registers to invest, it then must do at least two things:

1) If the investment is being made in an unstable country/region, the company must obtain political risk insurance guarantees – usually from the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA);
2) With such political risk insurance, the company then can begin to RAISE loans to undertake the project on better financial terms and conditions.

In the case of ContourGlobal, the firm subsequently received MIGA coverage in May 2011.

Three months later in August 2011, ContourGlobal was then able to secure a loan facility of US$91.25 million for phase one (25 MW).

Here then is the situation. When ContourGlobal REGISTERED to invest US$325 million in 2009, it had by 2011 raised only US$91million in loans to finance its project in Rwanda.


If the pronouncement of US$1.2billion REGISTERED investment in the first half of 2013 by the Kagame government is meant to impress, it only achieves the opposite effect. We see a government that has lost its way, using juvenile and crude methods to self-promote. What a shame!

David Himbara