Kagame’s New Times And The Fantasy Of A Competitive Stock Exchange In Rwanda

By David Himbara

The News Times loves to paint Rwanda as a powerful economy. In an editorial dated May 5, 2018, the newspaper fantasized about Rwanda’s stock exchange. According to The New Times, Rwanda’s stock exchange is about “join the big boys” in the region:

”It is good news that by next month, (Rwanda Stock Exchange) RSE will have joined the big boys and have all its operations automated.

In the same editorial, however, The New Times stumbles on reality when it states the following:

“The Nairobi Stock Exchange is the oldest having opened its doors in 1957 and has over 60 companies listed. The Tanzanian and Ugandan have a combined listing of about 45 companies and have been in business for slightly over 20 years. So in actual fact, Kenya has been the only meaningful exchange and ruled the market for 60 years.

Dear The New Times, to have a stock exchange requires an economy.

To have a genuine private-led economy, laws and regulations have to apply. In Kagame’s Rwanda, he wakes up one day and illegally seizes private enterprises. Further, Kagame’s and the ruling party’s own business empire, Crystal Ventures Ltd, dominates Rwanda’s economy thus fusing the state and business. This shuts the door to genuine private enterprise. What emerges is crony capitalism in which business success depends on favouritism and corrupt relationships between business and the state.

Dear The New Times, Rwanda’s Stock Exchange is a mere extension of the Nairobi one

Dear The New Times, take a closer look at the company listing on Rwanda Stock Exchange:

  1. Bank of Kigali
  2. Bralirwa
  3. Crystal Telecom
  4. Equity Group
  5. I&M Bank
  6. KCB Group
  7. Nation Media Group
  8. Uchumi Supermarkets

What do we see on Rwanda Stock Exchange? Only three companies listed on Rwanda’s Stock Exchange are Rwanda-based companies, namely, Bank of Kigali, Bralirwa, and Crystal Telecom. Moreover, Crystal Telecom is not a genuine company but 20% shares of MTN South Africa. The 20% shares of MTN that are trading on Rwanda’s Stock Exchange are owned by Kagame and his ruling party. Five companies out of eight on Rwandan Stock Exchange are Kenyan. Meanwhile, the market capitalization of the Rwanda Stock Exchange is US$3.5 Billion. The Nairobi Securities Exchange’s market capitalization stands at US$26 Billion. So much for Rwanda joining the big boys. This will never happen under Kagame’s crony capitalism.