General Paul Kagame keeps dreaming of how to turn Rwanda into an African hub that instantly transforms Rwanda into the Singapore of Africa. One of such Kagame pipe dreams was adding value to gold via a state-of-the-art gold and precious metal refinery hub in Kigali. That is how Aldango Ltd was launched in June 2019. By January 2021, the dream and the company were in ruins.
Back in 2017, Aldabra, a foreign business entity, was invited to brainstorm ways and means of adding value to gold in Rwanda. Kagame and top lieutenants comprising, James Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure at that time; Francis Gatare, then CEO of the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB); and Claire Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board, endorsed the idea of gold refinery. Ivan Twagirashema, who was at the time the CEO of Ngali Holdings Ltd, a ruling party entity, was also part of the Kagame team.
Aldango Ltd was then set up with Aldabra holding 50 percent of the shares and Ngali Mining Ltd acquiring the other 50 percent. With the launch of Aldango Ltd, Kagame’s dream of making Rwanda an African hub for value addition via a state-of-the-art gold and precious metal refinery appeared to materialize. Aldango Ltd set up shop in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone. In June 2019, the first gold and precious metal refinery in Rwanda opened its doors. A Rwandan by the name of Jean de Dieu Mutunzi was the Chief Executive Officer of Aldango Ltd.
Then, things went downhill. In October 2020, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau invaded Aldango Ltd’s premises and arrested six members of its staff. In January 2021, the Kagame government suspended Aldango’s export license with immediate effect. Less than two years later after it was launched, Aldango Ltd was dead. What happened? According to Aldango Ltd, the Kagame government falsely accused the company of tax evasion, before seizing its assets and kicking the owners out of Rwanda. This is how Aldango Ltd describes what happened:
“Ngali Mining’s representatives unlawfully took and carried away 82,335.20 grams of gold (with an approximate value of USD 4,795,000.00) and 300 kilograms of silver (with an approximate value of USD 236,766.00). In fear for their lives and safety, these representatives immediately fled from the Republic of Rwanda…Ngali Mining exported the stolen precious metals and is currently operating Aldango under the name of Equinox Mining Ltd.”
There goes another Kagame hub. Stay tuned.