By David Himbara
The investor in Kagame’s African financial hub is Westbridge Mortgage, a two-man Canadian company specializing in the takeover of distressed banks in Africa. Thrown out of Côte d’Ivoire in 2019, Westbridge operates in Mauritania where it purchased a distressed bank in 2020.
The Rwandan government’s propaganda newspaper, the New Times is celebrating General Paul Kagame’s latest fantasy – turning Kigali into Africa’s financial hub. According to the New Times, Kagame’s financial hub is now taking off, with the arrival of the first foreign investor that is about to make Kigali its African headquarters for mortgage financing across the continent.
The foreign investor is Westbridge Mortgage from Canada which, according to the New Times “will be setting up in Rwanda its holding company to oversee its business interests across the African continent.” Both Kagame’s financial hub and Westbridge’s mortgage financing across Africa are fantasies.
According the Canadian government records, Westbridge has two shareholders, namely, James Clayton and JD Diabira. The government records further indicate that the company was incorporated in 2014, dissolved in 2017, and revived in 2018. Westbridge indicates however that although it is headquartered in Calgary, Canada, 93% of its business activities are in west Africa. The company says that its African strategy is the “acquisition of assets or institutions in difficulty” or distressed asset-acquisition in Africa. Westbridge describes itself as a “mortgage group organized to originate, hold, securitize and trade commercial mortgages in major markets across West and East Africa.”
Westbridge’s first major venture in Africa was in Côte d’Ivoire, where the company purchased 51.6% shares of the government-owned Banque de l’Habitat de Côte d’Ivoire (BHCI) in 2017. By 2019, however, the Alassane Ouattara government had unceremoniously thrown Westbridge out of Côte d’Ivoire and are-nationalized BHCI.
Westbridge then moved to Mauritania where in 2020 it purchased a distressed bank, Nouvelle Banque de Mauritanie (NBM) from a local businessman, Abdel Baghy Ahmed Bouha. When Westbridge purchased NBM, the bank was on verge of bankruptcy, and in negotiations with the central bank regarding the rescue scheme.
A new tragicomedy movie has begun in Rwanda, starring General Kagame’s African financial hub and Westbridge’s rollout of mortgage financing across the continent from Cape to Cairo. The ending of the movie won’t be pretty. Stay tuned.