Faith and Business: Africa’s Power Couple
Faith and Business: Africa’s Power Couple

Amidst challenges and opportunities, faith stands out as a cornerstone of su...
Special Economic Zones in Nigeria Drive Economic Growth and Employment Surge,
Special Economic Zones in Nigeria Drive Economic Growth and Employment Surge,

Nigeria's Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have emerged as powerful catalysts f...
The Green Horizon: Perspectives on the Future of Clean Energy
The Green Horizon: Perspectives on the Future of Clean Energy

In the imminent landscape of 2030, a revolution is brewing in global transpo...
Navigating African Trade Finance
Navigating African Trade Finance

We are privileged to interview Dr.Graham Bright JP, Head of Compliance and O...
previous arrow
next arrow
Investors Guide to Africa Magazine
Invest Durban Logo

Navigating African Trade Finance

We are privileged to interview Dr.Graham Bright JP, Head of Compliance and Operation at Euro Exim Bank, a financial institution with global ambitions in trade finance. Euro Exim Bank has set its sights on the African market, a region rich in potential but also marked by unique challenges. We will delve into the inspiration behind Euro Exim Bank’s African expansion, its strategies to adapt to the diverse African market dynamics, and its approach to mitigating risks in African Trade Finance.

The African financial landscape is competitive, and Euro Exim Bank aims to differentiate itself by offering innovative financial products and services that prioritize working capital, facilitate bond raising for smaller companies, and leverage advanced payment guarantees. Mr. Bright will also share insights into Euro Exim Bank’s vision for empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, a vital driver of economic growth on the continent.

IGTA: What inspired Euro Exim Bank’s African expansion? In a region ripe with potential, what factors and opportunities motivated Euro Exim Bank’s decision to enter the African market?

GB: Euro Exim Bank has a global ambition to be the largest fastest and most trusted bank in trade finance. With our expanding sales force, due diligence target market of Tier 2/3 corporates, we felt our services were uniquely positioned to help the individual countries and continent to improve trade links, reduce trade gaps and relieve the pressures created by lack of liquidity, cost of foreign exchange, heavy bureaucracy and credibility.

By working with local partners and our ever-expanding network of sales representatives, this contact surface has today enabled us to cover over 40 of the 54 countries in Africa with over 10000 sales consultants offering cost effective solutions.

GB: Euro Exim bank has already been active in the region for over 6 years and with local presence have become uniquely attuned to the subtle differences in culture custom taxation legislation and regulation that have traditionally meant nationalism isolationism and protectionist trade schemes. By understanding these often difficult working relationships we are able to offer our products and services to companies previously disintermediated by cost, time, resource shortages and infrastructure failings.

Good service is key to not only doing business once but to building a profitable sustained business with companies who have been disadvantaged in the past.

IGTA: How will Euro Exim Bank adapt to Africa’s unique market dynamics? Africa’s economy boasts both strength and complexity. How will Euro Exim Bank adapt its trade finance strategies to navigate this diverse market successfully?

GB: Of critical importance moving forward is the Africa continent free trade agreement which offers the opportunity for countries to standardise rationalise and reuse architecture, resources and best of breed services to concentrate on what they do best. Just as the make in India initiative looks to protect home businesses so Africa is looking but more opportunities to process their own raw materials improve agricultural output and to trade more effectively with neighbouring countries.

Again, by ensuring cost efficient instrument issuance Euro Exim Bank is highly focused to ensure that once ignored sectors of industry able to trade more effectively in international markets. With a wealth of critical raw materials and more demand from established economies to provide the basic elements for manufacturing process is i.e. electric vehicles phones and other essential electronic components Africa can evolve to be a real powerhouse in future industrial processes.

IGTA: What regulatory challenges does Euro Exim Bank anticipate and how will they overcome them?

GB: An update or new piece of regulation emerges every 12 minutes somewhere in the world. To ensure that all necessary checks are continually correctly done requires teams with the right experience, the right applications and with a degree of common sense. We must be pragmatic in our approach to risk and in addition to our mandated regulatory environment we acknowledge that sometimes it is very difficult to gather information on companies and individuals where that data is nearly impossible to find.

Information regarding companies is non-standard, as is information on directors shareholders and UBO’s some countries have no Companies House, others do not even require annual statements,  so it is vital that we take an informed view and appropriate collateral in order to ensure protection to our company and that we can effectively do business.

IGTA: Given Africa’s stringent financial regulations, how does Euro Exim Bank plan to ensure compliance while fostering innovation?

GB: As mentioned with each country of Africa having its own unique environment for trade we have to be ever more mindful of the policies, customs, cultures and specific ways of working. Whilst the international community is trying to move the very heavy burden of paper in trade to an electronic form, real benefits to the continent will come when more trust is created, more partnerships activated and a more positive mindset is realised towards Africa as a whole. Trading with immediate neighbours to reduce transport costs,  using more technology in agriculture, refining own critical materials and exploiting minerals will be key winning strategies.

Given its size, geography, expanding young population, huge amount of uncultivated land which could potentially feed the world and technology hubs in East Africa, our bank looks at a local level with our sales teams to ensure authenticity, veracity and legitimacy of companies which would up to this point have been restricted from even considering international trade. Through partnerships and greater KYC initiatives companies disintermediated in the past may now be considered a force for change and sustainable business.

Technology is key to supporting any initiatives in Africa. Euro Exim Bank has  developed its own trade platform covering the entire lifecycle of a trade instrument from first gathering of a pro forma invoice through to the settlement of the trade which could be one year for inception. 

IGTA: Can Euro Exim Bank share insights into its Trade Finance portfolio for Africa? Are there specific trade finance products and services Euro Exim Bank plans to introduce to cater to African businesses?

GB: Our specific product portfolio is made-up of letters of credit, standby letters of credit, performance bonds and guarantees. With these products we assist not only the importer to satisfy financial and documentary requirements for each trade but also contractors looking to bid for large infrastructure projects. Our unique selling point is the way in which we handle collateral requirements and our innovative pricing to assist smaller institutions without locking cash flow and working capital.

Hampered by lack of liquidity in local banks and availability of US dollars in local markets, with a low-risk appetite, many banks today require up to 110% of the value of any trade before initiating transactions. By effectively locking cash flow, small companies are automatically restricted in investment, marketing and import opportunities.

Euro Exim Bank works on the principle of appropriate collateral with initial fees for issuance rather than locking working capital. This leaves companies open to trade, pay bills, manufacture product through the time of a transaction, which could typically be one year or more.

IGTA: How does Euro Exim Bank plan to differentiate itself amidst competition? The African financial landscape is competitive. What unique value propositions will Euro Exim Bank bring to the table?

GB: As mentioned cash flow and working capital are the lifeblood of companies and where other banks may wish to fully protect themselves in a totally risk averse way smaller companies find that they are unable to compete, ignored as a potential new supply chain source, and therefore not given the opportunity to contribute to local and national economic development.

Other instruments we handle our advanced payment guarantees proof of funds source of funds and bank comfort letters all designed to mitigate risk and to ensure smooth transactions across the whole of the trade lifecycle.

An additional service we now offer is the facilitation of bond raising for companies wishing to raise capital through bond placement. We provide the facilitation service using bond experts to assist companies to bring the bond to the market and whilst we do not raise the bond ourselves, this is again a valuable service to enable smaller companies to find additional finance and investors for projects, for values more than USD10 million.

IGTA: What steps are being taken to mitigate risks in African Trade Finance? Trade finance inherently involves risks. How does Euro Exim Bank plan to manage and minimise these risks in its operations?

GB: In the past, the mere mention of Africa as a supplier, producer and trusted partner has doubt and uncertainty. However, perceptions are changing. Having been recently to exciting conferences and met with many governments, companies, trade delegations, politicians and industrialists there is a renewed ambition to elevate Africa to a better position of self-sustainability renewed partnerships, information sharing more focused export education training and acceptance in confident trade negotiations.

There is also a view that companies and sovereign states should not be ranked and rated by traditional western credit agencies. Rather, there should be a dedicated service to review the specific and subtle attributes of the continent and to review them based on those standards rather than those that apply in western developed nations.

SMEs drive 90% of economies and in Africa this is certainly the case with young entrepreneurs of all genders, mobile banking, drive and ambition

IGTA: Is Euro Exim Bank embracing technological innovations in its expansion? In a digital age, what role will technology and innovation play in Euro Exim Bank’s operations in Africa?

GB: Technology is key to supporting any initiatives in Africa. Euro Exim Bank has  developed its own trade platform covering the entire lifecycle of a trade instrument from first gathering of a pro forma invoice through to the settlement of the trade which could be one year for inception. We have actively implemented solutions with enablers such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Whilst these are becoming more standard across the finance industry, and mainly favouring the banks to reduce internal cost, the next innovation will be to pass these savings directly to clients.  Cost of service is a key factor especially in emerging markets and by controlling our own enterprise software, building and maintaining bank relationships in key markets and concentrating on approved products with the emphasis on KYC compliance due diligence and AML requirements our offerings can be made available globally.

IGTA:  How and will Euro Exim Bank collaborate with local financial institutions and businesses? What partnerships or collaborations does Euro Exim Bank envision to foster a strong presence and mutually beneficial relationships in Africa?

GB: We are building relationships with local banks across Africa to accept fees and payments in USD and local currency to ensure that clients have options when paying their invoiced fees or paying abroad to a supplier.

We are also looking at cryptocurrency as another payment mechanism where institutions wish to pay in their local currency and where the recipient wishes to receive their local currency. Companies can reduce their dependency on expensive fiat currency and ensure fast delivery and low volatility in exchange rates.

IGTA: What Is Euro Exim Bank’s vision for empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa? SMEs are vital to economic growth. How will Euro Exim Bank support and empower these businesses.

GB: SMEs drive 90% of economies and in Africa this is certainly the case with young entrepreneurs of all genders, mobile banking, drive and ambition.

EEB will support these businesses through cost effective rates for our instruments working closely with clients for repeat business, not locking their cash flow which will enable them to continue business effectively throughout the time of transactions, and providing local expertise through our sales network.

Having people on the ground makes a huge difference to companies and relationship with the banking sector, and our teams who are well versed in handling smaller transactions rather than those of an Export Credit Agency bank or organisation dealing in millions of dollars.

IGTA:  What success metrics will Euro Exim Bank use to gauge Its African expansion? How will Euro Exim Bank measure the success of its venture in Africa, and what milestones are they aiming to achieve?

GB: Success can be measured a number of ways. For example, sales revenue. Whilst revenue is all important to drive business, the sustainability of business is equally important.

Good service is key to not only doing business once but to building a profitable sustained business with companies who have been disadvantaged in the past. By maintaining low cost of service, high levels of engagement with the client, constant training of our staff in regulatory and product information, enhancement of our systems to embrace new technologies we add efficiencies across the trade lifecycle.

Also important is understanding the impact of trade, and ensuring we can effectively navigate the complexity and disconnects in trade, through the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and working with the International Chamber of Commerce, leading the design of digital trade, legal reform and document digitalisation, through the Electronic Trade Documents Act which came into force on 20 September in the UK, a revolution to make trade cheaper, faster, simpler, and more sustainable and ensure the trading system is fit for purpose for the 21st century.

The hope at EEB is that this fundamental piece of legislation forms the foundation for a standardised approach across the globe in enhancing trade and allowing more inclusivity for the worlds’ businesses, and we remain uniquely positioned across the continent to facilitate trade.

Durban, South Africa: A Thriving Hub for Business Relocation and Investment

In the fast-paced world of global business, location is a pivotal factor that can make or break a company’s success. Durban, a coastal gem in South Africa, is rapidly emerging as an enticing destination for business relocation and investment. With its burgeoning business sectors, strategic location, and a dynamic workforce, Durban offers an irresistible cocktail of opportunity and growth potential for companies seeking to expand their horizons. This editorial explores the thriving business sectors, advantages of this coastal metropolis, and successful case studies of companies that have made the smart move to Durban in the last two years.

The Rising Business Sectors

Durban is not only known for its breath-taking beaches and pleasant climate but also for its diverse and vibrant business landscape. Several sectors have witnessed robust growth, making this city a lucrative destination for business investment.

Shipping and Logistics: Durban boasts one of the largest and busiest ports in Africa, playing a pivotal role in South Africa’s international trade. This strategic location makes it an ideal hub for shipping and logistics companies looking to establish a strong presence in the region. In recent years, several multinational corporations have set up their logistics and supply chain operations in Durban, capitalising on its connectivity to global markets.

Tourism and Hospitality: As a coastal city with a rich cultural heritage, Durban is a prime destination for tourists, attracting millions of visitors annually. The tourism and hospitality sector has been growing steadily, offering ample opportunities for investment in hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. The city’s warm climate, beautiful beaches, and diverse attractions provide a solid foundation for businesses to thrive in this sector.

Umhlanga rocks Durban South Africa

Information Technology and Innovation: Durban has seen a remarkable surge in the IT sector, with numerous tech startups and companies setting up shop. The city’s local universities and educational institutions are producing a talented pool of IT professionals, making it an attractive destination for tech-based businesses. This sector’s growth is bolstered by Durban’s strong internet infrastructure and government incentives for tech innovation.

Manufacturing: Durban has a well-established manufacturing industry, specialising in automotive, chemicals, and agribusiness. The presence of key industrial zones, coupled with access to a deep pool of skilled labour, makes Durban an ideal location for manufacturing companies seeking cost-effective and efficient production facilities.

Renewable Energy: In a world increasingly focused on sustainable development, Durban is emerging as a hotspot for renewable energy projects. The city’s abundant sunshine and wind resources make it a prime location for solar and wind energy ventures. The South African government’s commitment to renewable energy and incentives for clean energy projects further bolster the sector’s appeal.

The Benefits of Durban as a Business Hub

Durban offers a unique set of advantages that make it an ideal choice for businesses looking to relocate or invest:

Strategic Location: Durban is strategically positioned on the eastern coast of South Africa, providing easy access to both domestic and international markets. With a well-developed transport infrastructure, businesses can efficiently import and export goods and services.

Cost-Effective Workforce: Durban’s workforce is diverse, skilled, and cost-competitive, making it an excellent resource for businesses looking to optimise their operational costs while maintaining quality. The city is home to several universities and vocational training institutions, ensuring a continuous supply of well-educated professionals.

Quality of Life: Durban’s pleasant climate, beautiful scenery, and a relaxed coastal lifestyle contribute to a high quality of life for employees and their families. A better work-life balance can lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity.

Government Incentives: The South African government offers various incentives, including tax breaks and grants, to attract foreign investment and stimulate economic growth in key sectors. Businesses in Durban can take advantage of these incentives to enhance their financial prospects.

Successful Case Studies

In the past two years, numerous companies have made the smart move to Durban and achieved remarkable success. Let’s take a closer look at a few case studies:

Tech Innovations Ltd: A tech startup, Tech Innovations Ltd, relocated its headquarters to Durban in 2022. The city’s growing tech ecosystem, coupled with access to a skilled workforce, enabled the company to rapidly scale its operations. Within two years, it secured substantial investments and partnerships, making it a key player in the South African tech industry.

EcoPower Solutions: A renewable energy company, EcoPower Solutions, decided to invest in Durban’s abundant sunshine and wind resources. The company’s solar and wind projects in the region have not only contributed to reducing carbon emissions but have also yielded substantial financial gains. Durban’s commitment to renewable energy development and government incentives facilitated their success.

In conclusion, Durban, South Africa, is a prime destination for business relocation and investment. With flourishing business sectors, a strategic location, a cost-effective workforce, and government incentives, Durban offers a range of advantages that can boost any company’s prospects. The success stories of companies like XYZ Corporation, Tech Innovations Ltd, and EcoPower Solutions provide testament to the potential that Durban holds for businesses. As the world continues to evolve, Durban is poised to be a key player in the global business landscape. For companies seeking to make a smart move, Durban is undoubtedly an enticing option worth considering.

Morocco’s Bold Bid to Transform Tourism in the Wake of a Devastating Earthquake

In the aftermath of its most powerful earthquake in over six decades, Morocco is calling upon visionary investors to breathe new life into its vibrant tourism sector. Opportunities abound, spanning from the development of pristine beachfront resorts to the creation of immersive theme parks.

With a resolute ambition to double annual investment in the tourism industry to a staggering $2 billion by 2026, Imad Barrakad, the trailblazing CEO of the Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development, shared his bold vision on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi. Presently, the nation draws in a commendable $1 billion in tourism investments annually, with 80 percent stemming from domestic investors and the remaining 20 percent from overseas.

To entice fresh capital, Morocco has raised the stakes, offering an enticing incentive of up to 30 percent cash-back on capital expenditure (capex) for prospective tourism projects. The ultimate goal? To beckon 17.5 million tourists by 2026 and a staggering 26 million by 2030—up significantly from 11 million visitors in the year preceding the global upheaval of COVID-19.

Mr. Barrakad, the visionary at the helm, paints a vivid picture of the future, one where Morocco aims to generate a robust 200,000 new jobs within the tourism sector by 2026. Simultaneously, they aspire to elevate foreign exchange earnings to an astonishing $12 billion, a remarkable 1.5-fold increase from 2019 levels. These ambitious initiatives are part of Morocco’s new 2023-2026 strategic roadmap, designed to reinvigorate the nation’s travel and tourism industry and elevate its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 7 percent to an impressive 10 percent.

As Mr. Barrakad expounds, “Morocco possesses boundless tourism potential, with untapped opportunities in desert expanses, along picturesque coastlines, and within pristine national parks.” Yet, he underscores the need to diversify investments away from big cities and UNESCO-listed monuments, focusing instead on untapped coastal territories.

Furthermore, Morocco aims to enrich its leisure offerings, luring globetrotters from every corner of the world. They also intend to expand their current portfolio of 300,000 hotel beds to cater to the growing influx of tourists. Mr. Barrakad passionately emphasizes, “Investors in Morocco will discover competitive infrastructure, enticing profitability, and boundless opportunity. Our ultimate competitive advantage, however, is our legendary hospitality—an Arab and Islamic tradition extended to all who journey to our nation.”

Amidst this transformative journey, Morocco finds itself grappling with the aftermath of a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck 70 kilometres southwest of Marrakesh on September 8. The epicentre, nestled in the Atlas Mountains—an area teeming with remote villages inaccessible by road—endured the most catastrophic damage.

Nevertheless, the resilient spirit of Morocco shines through as they embark on a $11.7 billion post-earthquake reconstruction program over the next five years. While the tremors disrupted plans and led to postponed reservations in Marrakesh, tourists continue to flock to Morocco.

Mr. Barrakad’s message to the world is clear: Morocco is not only courting Gulf investors, but also reaching out to partners in Asia and Africa. The overarching message is one of stability—a country strategically positioned at the crossroads of the world, poised to offer unparalleled opportunities for investors with a bold vision.

Marrakesh, despite the challenges, remains steadfast in its commitment to host the International Monetary Fund and World Bank’s annual meetings on October 9—an extraordinary moment that promises to make the Arab world proud.

In the face of adversity, Morocco’s resolve to redefine its tourism landscape is nothing short of remarkable. Investors, adventurers, and the world at large are invited to partake in this grand odyssey towards a brighter, more vibrant future.

La vision du Rwanda

Investors Guide to Africa s’entretient avec Nick Barigye, directeur général de Rwanda Finance Limited (RFL), l’agence chargée de développer et de promouvoir le Centre financier international de Kigali (KIFC) et de positionner le Rwanda comme une juridiction financière privilégiée pour les investissements en Afrique.

IGTA : La vision du Centre financier international de Kigali est de catalyser le développement socio-économique du Rwanda en libérant des capitaux. Dans quelle mesure cette vision est-elle en train de se réaliser ?

Nick Barigye : Notre Vision 2050 définit le plan stratégique à long terme pour que le pays devienne un pays à revenu moyen supérieur d’ici 2035 et un pays à revenu élevé d’ici 2050. Pour y parvenir, nous devons être innovants et attractifs pour les investisseurs locaux, régionaux et internationaux. Le Centre financier international de Kigali (KIFC) représente les aspirations du Rwanda et joue un rôle crucial dans le déblocage de nouveaux investissements pour faciliter le potentiel économique du Rwanda.

Au cours des deux dernières années, nous avons travaillé dur pour développer l’infrastructure et le cadre réglementaire nécessaires pour attirer les institutions financières, tant nationales qu’internationales ; pour améliorer la facilité de faire des affaires au Rwanda ; pour diversifier les services financiers offerts ; et pour renforcer le cadre de conformité afin de garantir la stabilité et l’intégrité du secteur financier. Ceci est crucial pour gagner la confiance des investisseurs et des institutions.

Jusqu’à présent, nous avons attiré plus de 100 structures d’investissement, y compris des holdings, des fonds et des FinTechs, entre autres, pour qu’elles se domicilient dans le pays. Cela a contribué à la croissance de l’économie rwandaise de 9,2 % au premier trimestre 2023, après une augmentation de 8,2 % en 2022 (The World Bank, 2023).

IGTA : Quelles réformes visant à faciliter le commerce et l’investissement, à renforcer le statut du Rwanda en tant que juridiction transparente et conforme, et à accroître la facilité de faire des affaires, vous enthousiasment le plus et pourquoi ?

Nick Barigye : Au cours des deux dernières années, 19 lois ont été promulguées, 17 accords de prévention de la double imposition (DTAA) ont été signés et nous avons formé d’importantes alliances stratégiques avec sept centres financiers internationaux différents, dont Jersey Finance, Qatar IFC, Casablanca IFC, Astana IFC, et trois IFD, dont British International Investment.

Le chemin parcouru jusqu’à présent a été remarquable, et nous avons été classés en tête des nations africaines dans des enquêtes internationales. En 2020, le Rwanda était deuxième dans l’indice de facilité de faire des affaires de la Banque mondiale et quatrième en Afrique subsaharienne dans l’indice de compétitivité mondiale du Forum économique mondial (WEF). En 2021, nous avons été reconnus comme le premier pays à faible revenu le plus innovant par l’indice mondial de l’innovation.

Le Centre de renseignement financier (FIC) nouvellement créé a également rejoint la liste des régulateurs établis mandatés pour garantir l’intégrité des systèmes financiers du Rwanda. Aux côtés de la Banque nationale du Rwanda, de l’Autorité des marchés de capitaux et du Conseil de développement du Rwanda, le FIC assurera une surveillance financière efficace et le respect des exigences du Groupe d’action financière sur le blanchiment de capitaux (GAFI).

IGTA : Que pouvez-vous nous dire sur la gamme d’incitations en place destinées à stimuler l’investissement direct étranger ?

Nick Barigye : Pour être une plaque tournante unique, capable de faciliter les investissements internationaux, les transactions transfrontalières et les opportunités d’expansion commerciale, nous avons fourni une base propice à la structuration de divers véhicules d’investissement.

En renforçant nos lois contre le blanchiment d’argent et le financement du terrorisme, nous avons instauré un haut niveau de confiance parmi les investisseurs.

Certaines des nouvelles lois fiscales ont également fourni des incitations en termes de liberté de rapatriement des bénéfices et des capitaux à travers la région. En conséquence, nous avons constaté un regain d’intérêt de la part des investisseurs régionaux et africains à la recherche de domiciles financiers alternatifs pour leurs investissements sur le continent.

L’année dernière, le Rwanda a été l’un des huit premiers pays à commencer à commercer dans le cadre des conditions préférentielles de l’initiative de commerce guidé de l’AfCFTA. Nous sommes également membres de l’Association des bourses d’Afrique de l’Est (EASEA), qui offre des possibilités de cotation croisée aux investisseurs institutionnels régionaux, dans toute la région et au-delà. 

Nous avons construit un secteur des services financiers solide et dynamique, soutenu par des innovations basées sur la fintech, ce qui est primordial pour élargir et diversifier les offres de produits financiers et de structures juridiques, comme les investisseurs qui cherchent à créer des fonds d’investissement et des structures ad hoc pour financer des projets régionaux.

KIFC comprend également que la durabilité est un facteur clé pour être compétitif, c’est pourquoi nous développons des pistes pour les investissements axés sur l’environnement, le social et la gouvernance (ESG). Nous assistons déjà à une accélération de la transition vers un financement vert et durable, puisque nous avons récemment rejoint les Centres financiers pour la durabilité. L’année dernière, lors de la COP27, le Rwanda s’est présenté comme une destination idéale pour les investissements verts et a lancé la feuille de route décennale pour le financement durable, parallèlement à la facilité d’investissement vert du gouvernement, “Ireme Invest”.

En reconnaissance de nos réformes pour l’adaptation au climat et l’atténuation de ses effets, en 2022, le Rwanda a été l’un des trois premiers pays et le premier pays africain à bénéficier d’un financement dans le cadre du Fonds pour la résilience et la durabilité (RST) du Fonds monétaire international.

IGTA : Comment la diversification économique actuelle du Rwanda se manifeste-t-elle le mieux ?

Nick Barigye : Le Rwanda a été l’un des pays les plus performants en matière de croissance économique au cours des deux dernières décennies, avec un taux de croissance annuel du PIB de 7,1 % en moyenne et des secteurs de pointe dans les domaines de l’énergie, de l’agriculture, du commerce et de l’hôtellerie, ainsi que des services financiers.

La création du KIFC s’inscrit dans la stratégie de diversification économique du pays, dont l’un des objectifs à long terme est de faire progresser notre secteur financier en introduisant de nouveaux services et produits.

En offrant des incitations fiscales aux FinTechs avant-gardistes et en promulguant des lois essentielles pour établir un cadre réglementaire favorable aux entreprises, le Rwanda a vu un nombre croissant de licornes, telles que Chipper Cash, choisir Kigali comme base pour consolider leurs opérations régionales.

Plus tôt cette année, en partenariat avec Elevandi, nous avons accueilli le tout premier événement phare de la fintech en Afrique, qui a rassemblé les plus importants décideurs africains et mondiaux de la fintech, solidifiant l’aspiration du Rwanda à devenir le “foyer de la FinTech en Afrique”.

Cependant, nous savons que les économies individuelles peuvent être trop petites pour accueillir des licornes de la fintech ou d’autres grandes entreprises, il est donc crucial que les gouvernements africains travaillent ensemble sur l’intégration du marché pour faciliter la croissance de leur secteur de la fintech.

Grâce à la stratégie quinquennale du Rwanda en matière de fintech, nous voulons maximiser le potentiel de la fintech pour la croissance économique et la transformation socio-économique en 1. positionnant le Rwanda comme une preuve de concept pour la fintech et 2. en établissant le Rwanda comme une rampe de lancement pour la fintech.

Le gouvernement pousse fortement le Rwanda à passer à une économie sans numéraire et à parvenir à une inclusion financière à l’échelle nationale. C’est pourquoi le KIFC met en place un environnement réglementaire favorable à l’innovation qui attire les fonds d’investissement et le capital-risque pour stimuler le secteur de la fintech qui connaît une croissance rapide.

IGTA : Le Rwanda est-il sur la bonne voie pour devenir un centre financier panafricain ?

Nick Barigye : Absolument.  Le Rwanda a bénéficié d’une période de stabilité politique, a mis en œuvre des réformes pour améliorer l’environnement des affaires, a investi dans le développement des infrastructures, y compris la construction de districts financiers modernes et de pôles technologiques, a tiré parti de la technologie et de l’innovation pour favoriser l’inclusion financière et a participé activement à l’intégration économique régionale.

Nous avons investi dans des infrastructures d’aviation de classe mondiale, faisant de Kigali une plaque tournante du transport aérien en Afrique grâce à sa situation géographique et à ses installations de conférence de haute qualité. Aujourd’hui, le Rwanda est considéré comme une plaque tournante mondiale pour les conférences.  Ces facteurs, associés à des investissements significatifs dans les TIC et l’innovation, ainsi qu’à l’appartenance à trois blocs économiques régionaux, signifient que nous sommes sur la bonne voie pour devenir un centre financier panafricain.

Le renforcement de la stature du Rwanda en tant que centre financier panafricain conduira à la création d’emplois dans divers secteurs, tels que la banque, l’assurance, le droit, la fiscalité, la fourniture de services fiduciaires, la gestion de fonds et les domaines réglementaires, tout en améliorant les compétences de la main-d’œuvre locale.

Récemment, le KIFC a été classé troisième en Afrique et deuxième en Afrique subsaharienne dans le Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) et a été classé parmi les 15 premiers centres mondiaux, ce qui devrait prendre de l’importance à l’avenir.

IGTA : Quels progrès ont été réalisés dans l’augmentation de la représentation féminine dans le secteur de la fintech et pourquoi pensez-vous que cela contribuera à faire progresser l’inclusion financière au Rwanda ?

Nick Barigye : La fintech a le potentiel de révolutionner les économies africaines en augmentant l’inclusion financière, en stimulant la croissance économique et en créant de nouveaux emplois et de nouvelles opportunités commerciales.

En Afrique, la part des entreprises fintech fondées par des femmes est deux fois supérieure à la moyenne mondiale mais, malheureusement, ce chiffre n’est encore que de 3,2 % – selon Findexable, une société d’études de marché qui suit la diversité des genres. De plus, alors que 30 % des professionnels de la technologie en Afrique subsaharienne sont des femmes, la part des femmes dans la fintech reste bien inférieure à la moyenne du secteur. Si le secteur veut continuer à étendre et à renforcer l’accès aux services financiers et au crédit, il doit non seulement servir les femmes, mais aussi être façonné par elles.

Le Rwanda est un leader régional en matière d’égalité des sexes, et nous avons constaté une augmentation considérable du nombre de femmes propriétaires d’entreprises individuelles au cours des cinq dernières années, ce qui témoigne de la croissance de l’entrepreneuriat féminin au Rwanda. Mais, malgré les progrès en matière d’inclusion financière que la fintech a permis, plus des trois quarts des femmes rwandaises n’ont toujours pas accès à un compte bancaire.

Le Rwanda est déterminé à combler le fossé entre les hommes et les femmes en élaborant des politiques financières intégrant le genre et en créant des lignes directrices pour les banques et les organisations de microfinance afin d’aider à concevoir des produits qui répondent aux besoins des femmes.

L’éducation financière est également très importante, c’est pourquoi nous travaillons avec nos partenaires pour autonomiser les femmes et les éduquer sur les services financiers numériques, comme la création d’un fonds panafricain pour soutenir les secteurs de la technologie et de l’éducation.

Notre objectif est de parvenir à l’égalité d’accès d’ici 2027.

Rwanda’s Vision

Investors Guide to Africa speaks to Nick Barigye, Chief Executive Officer of Rwanda Finance Limited (RFL), the agency responsible for developing and promoting Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) and positioning Rwanda as a preferred financial jurisdiction for investments into Africa.

IGTA: The vision is for Kigali International Financial Centre to catalyse Rwanda’s socio-economic development by unlocking capital. To what extent is this vision being realised?

Nick Barigye: Our Vision 2050sets the long-term strategic plan for the country to become an upper middle-income country by 2035 and a high-income country by 2050. To achieve this, we need to be innovative and attractive to local, regional, and international investors. The Kigali International Financial Centre (KIFC) represents Rwanda’s aspirations andplays a crucial role in unlocking new investment to facilitate Rwanda’s economic potential.

Nick Barigye

Over the last two years, we have been working hard to develop the necessary infrastructure and regulatory framework to attract financial institutions, both domestic and international; to improve the ease of doing business in Rwanda; to diversify the financial services offered; and to strengthen the compliance framework in ensuring the stability and integrity of the financial sector. This is crucial for gaining the trust of investors and institutions.

So far, we have attracted more than 100 investment structures including holding companies, funds, and FinTechs among others, to domicile in the country. This has contributed to Rwanda’s economy growing 9.2% in the first quarter of 2023, following an 8.2% increase in 2022 (The World Bank, 2023).

IGTA: Which reforms acting to facilitate trade and investment, enhance Rwanda’s status as a transparent and compliant jurisdiction, and increase its ease of doing business credentials are you most excited about and why?

Nick Barigye: In the last two years, 19 laws have been enacted, 17 Double Tax Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) have been signed and we have formed important strategic alliances with seven different international financial centres, including Jersey Finance, Qatar IFC, Casablanca IFC, Astana IFC, and three DFIs, including British International Investment.

The journey so far has been remarkable, and we have been ranked at the top of African nations in international surveys. In 2020, Rwanda was second in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index and fourth in sub-Saharan Africa by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index. In 2021, we were recognised as the first most innovative low-income country by Global Innovation Index.

The newly established Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has also joined the list of established regulators mandated to ensure the integrity of Rwanda’s financial systems. Alongside the National Bank of Rwanda, Capital Markets Authority, and Rwanda Development Board, FIC will ensure effective financial monitoring and compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requirements.

IGTA: What can you tell us about the range of incentives in place designed to stimulate foreign direct investment?

Nick Barigye: To be a unique hub, capable of facilitating international investment, cross-border transactions, and business expansion opportunities, we have provided a base conducive to the structuring of various investment vehicles.

By tightening our anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism laws, we have built high levels of trust among investors.

Some of the new tax laws have also provided incentives in terms of freedom to repatriate profit and capital across the region. As a result, we have seen peak interest among regional and African-based investors looking for alternative financial domiciles for their investments on the continent.

Last year, Rwanda was one of the first eight countries that started trading under the AfCFTA’s Guided Trade Initiative preferential terms. We are also members of the East Africa Stock Exchanges Association (EASEA) which enables cross-listing opportunities for regional institutional investors, across the region and beyond. 

We have built a sound and vibrant financial services sector backed by fintech-led innovations which is paramount in widening and diversifying financial products and legal structures offerings, such as investors seeking to establish investment funds and special purpose vehicles to fund regional projects.

KIFC also understands that sustainability is a key driver to be competitive, which is why we are developing avenues for environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-driven investments. We are already seeing an accelerated shift towards green and sustainable financing having recently joined the Financial Centres for Sustainability. Last year, at COP27, Rwanda presented herself as an ideal destination for green investment and launched the 10-year Sustainable Finance Roadmap alongside the Government’s green investment facility “Ireme Invest”.

In recognition of our reforms for climate adaptation and mitigation, in 2022, Rwanda was one of the first three countries and the first African country to benefit from financing under the International Monetary Fund’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST).

IGTA: How is Rwanda’s ongoing economic diversification best evidenced?

Nick Barigye: Rwanda has been one of the best performers for economic growth in the last two decades, with an annual GDP growth rate averaging 7.1% and leading sectors in energy, agriculture, trade and hospitality, and financial services.

The establishment of KIFC is part of the country’s economic diversification strategy, one of the long-term goals being to advance our financial sector by introducing new services and products.

By providing tax incentives for forward-thinking FinTechs and enacting critical laws to establish a pro-business regulatory framework, Rwanda has seen an increasing number of unicorns, such as Chipper Cash, choose Kigali as a base to consolidate their regional operations.

Earlier this year, in partnership with Elevandi, we hosted Africa’s first-ever global flagship fintech event which brought together the most important African and global decision-makers in fintech, solidifying Rwanda’s aspiration to become the ‘Home of FinTech’s in Africa.’

However, we know that individual economies can be too small to accommodate fintech unicorns or other large companies, so it is crucial that African governments work together on market integration to facilitate the growth of their fintech sector.

Through Rwanda’s five-year fintech strategy, we want to maximise the potential that fintech holds for economic growth and socio-economic transformation by 1. positioning Rwanda as a proof of concept for fintech and 2. establishing Rwanda as a launchpad for fintech.

There is a strong push by the government for Rwanda to shift to a cashless economy and to achieve nationwide financial inclusion. For this reason, KIFC is building an innovation-friendly regulatory environment that attracts investment funds and venture capital to drive the fast-growing fintech sector.

IGTA: Is Rwanda on track in its quest to transform into a pan-African financial hub?

Nick Barigye: Absolutely.  Rwanda has enjoyed a period of political stability, has implemented reforms to enhance the business environment; has been investing in infrastructure development, including the construction of modern financial districts and technology hubs; has leveraged technology and innovation to drive financial inclusion; and has been actively involved in regional economic integration.

We have invested in world-class aviation infrastructures making Kigali an African air travel hub due to its geographic location and high-quality conference facilities. Today, Rwanda is regarded as a global conference hub.  These factors, coupled with significant investments in ICT and innovation, as well as being part of three regional economic blocs, mean that we are on the right path to becoming a pan-African financial hub.

Growing the stature of Rwanda as a pan-African financial hub will lead to the creation of jobs in various sectors, such as banking, insurance, legal, tax, trust service provision, fund management, and regulatory fields, while also improving the skill set of the local workforce.

Recently, KIFC was ranked third in Africa and second in Sub-Saharan Africa on the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) and was ranked among the top 15 centres globally, likely to become more significant in the future.

IGTA: What progress has there been in increasing female representation in the fintech sector and why do you think this will help to advance financial inclusion in Rwanda?

Nick Barigye: Fintech has the potential to revolutionise Africa’s economies by increasing financial inclusion, driving economic growth, and creating new jobs and business opportunities.

In Africa, the share of fintech companies founded by women is double the global average but, unfortunately, the figure is still just 3.2% – according to Findexable, a market research company that tracks gender diversity. Moreover, while 30% of tech professionals in sub-Saharan Africa are women, the share of women in fintech remains well below the industry average. If the industry is to continue to expand and strengthen access to financial services and credit, it needs not only to serve women, but also to be shaped by them.

Rwanda is a regional leader in gender equality, and we have seen a tremendous increase in female ownership of individual enterprises in the past 5 years, showcasing the growth of women entrepreneurship in Rwanda. But, despite the progress in financial inclusion that fintech has enabled, more than three-quarters of Rwandan women still lack access to a bank account.

Rwanda is determined to close the gender gap by developing gender-inclusive financial policies and creating guidelines for banks and microfinance organisations to help design products that address women’s needs.

Financial literacy is also very important, so we are working with our partners to empower women and educate them on digital financial services such as the establishment of the pan-African fund to support tech and education sectors.

Our aim is to have equal access by 2027.

Blockchain And Trade Finance: A Marriage Made In Heaven

Is trade finance going to come up trumps together with blockchain technology? Banks and fintech firms remain confident that blockchain technology can transform the paper-heavy industry of trade finance.

The trade finance industry is ripe for the capabilities of blockchain technology. The technology is changing everything from payments transactions to how money is raised in the private mark. Blockchain has the potential to disrupt the trade landscape – by simplifying a range of activities – including reducing disputes and fraud to offering delivery and payment assurance, facilitating transparency of trade asset movement, and assisting in the flow of trade receivables. The end goal: increased collaboration, automation, and control in trade transactions.

Blockchain has the power to reshape trade finance and to decrease pointless frictions and shortcomings taking over the trade finance value chain. Old and paper-based processes are in desperate need of upgrading. Blockchain plays a crucial role in this transition and in the introduction of new digitalized solutions. The main benefits of blockchain technology in trade finance can be condensed down to efficiency, traceability, auditability, transparency and security.

 Benefits of a blockchain-based solution for trade finance

  • Follow new income streams through new financing products and alternatives to letters of credit
  • Offer banking services to small and medium enterprises and companies that would traditionally use open account trading
  • Acquire deep understandings into client financial positions and transaction histories
  • Lower operating costs by digitizing sluggish and cumbersome paper processes
  • Employ blockchain security attributes to establish greater visibility and control of transactions, thereby positively affecting the bank’s capital adequacy position
  • Rapid approval processes and trading cycles

To date, most processes in trade finance are manually driven, but a dramatic increase in blockchain-enabled solutions are being adopted by businesses. The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a report in 2018 declaring that blockchain would add US$3tn to international trade by 2030.

Euro Exim Bank (EEB), the best global trade finance bank, was one of the first adopters of blockchain to power international trade settlements and has gained an enviable reputation through its competitive pricing, customer relationships and fast service.

Blockchain not only enables collaboration but gives each participant autonomy over their own data, allowing them to choose how and when they plan to share it with other trading partners with a transparent and auditable data trail – without disclosing any data to irrelevant parties in the network.

Challenges facing blockchain adoption
Traditional paper-based trade finance systems:
One of the difficulties involved with trade finance is the large volume of paper documents that make up much of the information flow between trading parties. This reliance on documents has downsides, including the cost and time required to prepare, transmit, and check these documents. Paper documents may also be open to mistakes and forgery.

Lack of standardisation:
One of the main problems related to the development of digital platforms in trade finance is that each platform developer is doing something different.

Regulatory compliance:
There continues to be uncertainty over the legal status of e-documents among legal systems.

High implementation costs:
The cost of creating and maintaining a blockchain network is regarded as an barrier to the wide adoption of this technology.

Trade Finance Systems: siloed and disconnected
Trade finance involves numerous parties including a buyer, a seller, their corresponding banks as well as insurance providers and logistics companies, amongst others.  However, there is not one platform where all these parties can connect between each other. Instead, they need to connect to a multitude of platforms in order to initiate business, share documents and communicate.

Benefits of blockchain technology for trade finance
The International Chamber of Commerce estimates indicate that digitising trade documents could generate £25bn in economic growth by next year, and savings of £224bn through the uptake of the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records.

There has been widespread optimism regarding the application of blockchain in the banking industry, with claims pointing to blockchain technology disrupting business and financial services in the way the internet disrupted offline commerce. Blockchain technology holds the potential to change business processes by redefining value chain interactions, lowering operational intricacy and reducing transaction costs.

Blockchain has the potential to cut costs, speed up transactions and promote greater financial inclusion by streamlining cross-border and remittance payments. These powerful innovations can transform the payments infrastructure.

Benefits of blockchain to companies and clients:

  • It creates a single, shared source connecting parties. It also enables real-time exchange of data and assets between parties.
  • It reduces friction and cost, boosting speed and increasing the transparency of cross-border trade with digitised accounts on a distributed ledger. The technology, also called DLT, can now be used to settle a letter of credit in a few hours compared with ten days via the old system.
  • It can digitize, secure, streamline, and accelerate operational processes and supply chains across global markets. The benefits of blockchain are its simplicity and security. Since each new item adds to the coding and verifies the previous item the risk of forgery is eliminated.
  • It offers enhanced security. Blockchain solutions offer a high level of data security for banks, owing to the cryptographic operations that make them work. Their decentralized nature also helps to lower system downtime.
  • It provides greater transparency. Transactions and data are recorded identically in multiple locations
  • There is instant traceability. Blockchain creates an audit trail and reveals weaknesses in supply chains
  • Increased efficiency and speed: By simplifying processes with blockchain, transactions can be completed quicker and more effectively

Ripple, an enterprise blockchain services provider, is one of the most prominent players. While the company is best known for its associated cryptocurrency XRP, the venture-backed company itself is building out blockchain-based solutions for banks to use for clearance and settlement.

SWIFT messages are one-way, like emails, mean that transactions can’t be settled until each party has screened the transaction. By integrating directly with a bank’s existing databases and ledgers, Ripple provides banks with a faster, two-way communication protocol that permits real-time messaging and settlement. Ripple currently has over 300 customers in over 40 countries signed up with its blockchain network.

As one of its innovative projects, EEB was an early adopter of  Ripple’s cryptocurrency-driven global payments solution On-Demand Liquidity (ODL). Ripple and EEB also investigated a new capability that embeds trade finance transactions into Ripple’s blockchain-based messaging system.

Access to fiat currencies is expensive and limiting, but with ODL a buyer or seller can pay or receive funds in local currency with lower liquidity requirements. For buyers, local currency is exchanged into the XRP digital asset and remitted to their counterparty – who is paid in local currency. This is completed all in real-time, with full audit and a guarantee of zero rate-change through the transaction.

Using xCurrent for payments and ODL solves the liquidity issue by switching from local currency to XRP and paying out in local currency at the receiver end, resolves the time issue of delivery and authenticity.

EEB has one of the fastest issuance processes because of its streamlined workflow underpinned by blockchain, AI and innovative technologies, including the prospect of issuing its own asset-backed stable coin for trade, namely EXIMCoin.

Blockchain technology presents a plethora of opportunities for enterprises that implement it, and spending on blockchain is projected to increase over the next decade. This is occurring fast across trade finance, and innovative financial institutions like EEB provide their clients with quality financial solutions and flexibility. Leaders looking to future-proof their businesses should collaborate with thought leaders in blockchain, simplifying their processes and reaping the rewards.

For more information:


Nations are almost always better off when they buy and sell from one another. For businesses, globalisation can open up a world of opportunities. Access to the global economy provides new markets, new trade, new routes to consumers and new revenue streams, and nations with fundamental economic, social, political and cultural advantages.

Trade and cybersecurity are increasingly intertwined. Digital trade is crucial for almost every company, but it also introduces new complications. When products or services that contain a computer or can be connected to the internet – cross borders, cybersecurity risks emerge. And for today’s CISOs, managing cyber risk is Job #1, and it’s a full-time concern.

The role of trade finance is to introduce a third party to transactions to eliminate payment and supply risks. Businesses, organisations, and citizens increasingly operate online to deliver economic, social and other benefits. A recent McKinsey survey found that the pandemic has accelerated the overall adoption of digital technologies and applications by three to seven years in just a few months.

At the same time, cybersecurity threats have been growing. Large-scale fraud, data breaches, and identity thefts are increasing. The World Economic Forum’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook report indicates that cyber-attacks increased 125%  globally in 2021, with evidence suggesting a continued uptick through 2022.

There are many financial institutions focusing on international trade, and Euro Exim Bank (EEB) is the one to watch. Unlike a retail bank with counters, current accounts and holding client cash, EEB uses online 3rd party accounts with global banking counterparts and is constantly vigilant against cyber-attacks.

Government Capability in Managing Cybersecurity Risks:
According to the OECD, cybersecurity should “aim to reduce the risk to an acceptable level relative to the economic and social benefits expected from those activities, while taking into account the legitimate interests of others.”

We are highly dependent on electronic technology in the modern world, and protecting this data from cyber-attacks is a challenging issue. A government’s reactions are shaped by its capability to manage cybersecurity risks, such as: the laws and regulations on cybersecurity; the implementation of technical capabilities through national and sector-specific agencies; the organizations implementing cybersecurity; and the awareness campaigns, training, educations, and partnerships between agencies, firms, and countries.

The low cost of entry, anonymity, uncertainty of the threatening geographical area, dramatic impact and lack of public transparency, have led to strong and weak actors including governments, organized and terrorist groups and even individuals in this space, and threats such as cyber warfare, cybercrime, cyber terrorism, and cyber espionage. Governments must devise efficient systems to protect against the destructive impacts of cyber threats.

Many governments are introducing new policies to help increase their cyber security. The UK government for example  has published the Government Cyber Security Strategy (2022-2030) in which is sets out the government’s approach to building a cyber resilient public sector.

What is cybersecurity compliance?
Cybersecurity compliance is the organizational risk management method aligned with pre-defined security measures & controls on how data confidentiality is ensured by its administrational procedures.  IT security is made more challenging by compliance regulations, such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley and global standards, such as GDPR.

Cybersecurity standards:
Cybersecurity standards represent a key step in the IT governance process. As a means for managing and containing risk to acceptable levels, the standards must be wholly consistent with IT governance instruments and closely aligned with and driven by the enterprise’s cybersecurity policies. Standards can build a common approach to addressing cybersecurity risks based on best practice.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have developed a number of cybersecurity-related standards, including the jointly developed ISO/IEC 27000 series as well as sector specific-standards for electric utilities, healthcare, and shipping.

To address global cybersecurity challenges and improve digital trust, a new and improved version of ISO/IEC 27001 has just been published. The world’s best-known standard on information security management helps organizations secure their information assets – vital in today’s increasingly digital world.

Certification of compliance with cybersecurity standards:
Compliance certification can give business confidence in the cybersecurity of organizations and government. Under the EU Cybersecurity Act, June 2019, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity will establish an EU-wide cybersecurity certification scheme. NIST has developed a different approach in the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program, which encourages self-assessment of compliance.

Using Trade Policy to Improve Cybersecurity:
Although digital trade increases cybersecurity risks, trade and cybersecurity policy can also work in tandem to support growth in digital trade as well as strengthen cybersecurity outcomes.

Reforms since World War II have substantially reduced government-imposed trade barriers. But policies to protect domestic industries vary. Tariffs are much higher in certain sectors and among certain country groups than in others. Many countries have substantial barriers to trade in services in areas such as transportation, communications, and, often, the financial sector, while others have policies that welcome foreign competition. Under the rules-based international trading system centred in the WTO, trade policies have become more stable, more transparent, and more open.

Access to data:
As cybersecurity defence becomes more sophisticated, use of analytics and machine learning to monitor network activity plays a growing role in the analysis of risks and anomalies. The CPTPP and USMCA commitments to information flows across borders (subject to appropriate exceptions) and to avoiding data localization requirements, advances digital trade opportunities and cybersecurity outcomes.

Information sharing:
Trade agreements can include commitments to building public and private sector information sharing mechanisms. For example, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement includes a commitment to sharing information and best practices as a means of addressing and responding to cyberattacks.

Why a risk-based approach to cybersecurity is the right business choice:
Monitoring of trade deals needs a risk-based approach. The move from a free trade approach to a risk-based approach marks a foundational shift thinking on trade. This has prompted an urgent development of new policies, which includes a greater reliance on export controls. Cybersecurity is one of the main topics for business managers in today’s world. The approach to cyber risks has changed from “maturity based” to “risk-based” over time.

Risk-based approaches are often presented in opposition to compliance-driven approaches. A risk-based approach to cybersecurity is also proactive rather than reactive. Instead of focusing on incident response, a CIO at an organization using this approach is likely to invest heavily in testing, threat intelligence, and prevention. Finally, this approach is inherently realistic. The goal of a risk-based cybersecurity program is meaningful risk reduction, not 100% security.

New trade rules that can both support risk based effective cybersecurity regulation, build bridges between the cybersecurity policy in different countries to maximize synergies, and minimize barriers to trade are needed.

Euro Exim Bank (EEB) complies with the ever-changing policies and is a global organisation that caters to many countries with different jurisdictions, enacting end-to-end security and frequent evaluations with ongoing improvements. EEB was an early participant in the Ripple community and achieved xCurrent connectivity enabling institutions to instantly communicate and settle cross-border payments with end-to-end visibility and tracking, all in record time. EEB also participates with Ripple’s ODL service, and with expansion of crypto globally, looking to issue its own stable coin in 2023.

As the digital economy is growing, so too is the opportunity for malicious actors to exploit IT vulnerabilities. Recent high-profile cyber incidents, such as SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange, along with the notable increase in ransomware attacks on organisations and critical national infrastructure such as the Colonial Pipeline in the US, have demonstrated the disruptive potential of these threats and the real world impacts they can bring about.

Doing nothing is no longer an option.  You can protect your organisation, and your reputation, by partnering with a well-recognized financial organisation like EEB, with years of experience for effective management of risk in the facilitation of global trade.

Durban: Now is the Time for US Investors

In the realm of global investment, Africa constitutes perhaps the final frontier with its untapped potential across diverse sectors. As a rapidly growing and under-served marketplace, the continent is unmatched for 21st Century opportunity. So, why haven’t more investors beaten a path to Africa’s door to date?

Among the continent’s vibrant cities, Durban stands out as a strategic gateway for US investors aiming to capitalise on Africa’s economic growth. With its unique blend of infrastructure, location, economic diversity, and business-friendly environment, it presents a compelling case for US investors to consider.

Durban’s geographical location plays a pivotal role in its status as a gateway to Africa. Situated on the eastern coast of South Africa, Durban serves as a key international port city with easy access to major maritime trade routes. The city boasts the largest and busiest port in Africa, facilitating efficient trade and commerce not only within the country, but also across the continent. This connectivity enables US investors to establish a strong foothold in Africa and utilise Durban as a logistical hub for their operations across multiple African markets.

Durban’s economy is characterised by its remarkable diversity, encompassing manufacturing, tourism, finance, and services. The region offers a range of investment opportunities for US investors – around logistics and logistics management, petrochemicals, automotive and allied industries, ICT and BPS, agri-processing, life sciences, financial services, energy, tourism asset development and mining, and more besides.

Additionally, Durban is a popular tourist destination with a thriving hospitality sector, further diversifying the economic landscape. This mitigates risk for US investors by reducing reliance on a single sector and providing multiple avenues for growth.

Moreover, Durban benefits from having a large and diverse talent pool equipped with a range of skills, from engineering and technology to finance and management. Coupled with its status as a major educational hub, this ensures that US investors have access to a well-trained workforce to support their ventures. It is an advantage that serves to reduce the challenges associated with finding and developing the necessary human resources for business growth.

An oft overlooked key to successful investment ventures is cultural understanding. In Durban, however, the cosmopolitan population and rich cultural diversity provide US investors with a unique opportunity to establish connections and build relationships across various communities. This understanding of local markets and cultural nuances is crucial for tailoring products and services to meet the needs of diverse consumer bases across Africa.

By leveraging Durban as a launchpad, US investors can tap into the vast opportunities that Africa offers, while also benefitting from the city’s well-established infrastructure and conducive investment climate. As Africa’s potential continues to unfold, Durban stands ready to facilitate and amplify the success of investors venturing into this dynamic continent.

Durban’s pre-eminent status really becomes apparent when investors are assessing risk, potential returns, and alignment with their strategies.

Durban is an order of magnitude better than other locations across the continent in respect of political stability and its regulatory environment, with well-defined property rights, consistent rule of law, and effective contract enforcement that would not be out of place in the developed world. Meanwhile, its stable political environment fosters investor confidence and reduces the risk of abrupt policy changes that could adversely affect investments.

US investors need to be reassured regarding economic growth and market potential, and with Durban they will be. This is because the region can demonstrate sustained economic growth, diversification, and a burgeoning middle class. What’s more its gateway status to rapidly growing consumer markets both within and beyond South Africa offer opportunities for companies to introduce and scale their products and services, potentially leading to substantial returns on investment.

The US has the largest economy in the world and within its industrial and commercial ranks boasts the titans of global energy, technology, healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing. It is small wonder then that US investment antennae are pointing firmly towards Africa as the next big thing providing scope to sustain their position atop the summit of world commerce. Durban’s unrivalled transport links into the African interior and phenomenal port facilities add to its interest for those US investors focused on those sectors with export potential, especially those with an interest in Africa’s abundant mineral, oil, and gas reserves.

US investors essentially seek African investments that offer a combination of political stability, economic growth potential, favourable regulatory environments, infrastructure development, sectoral opportunities, access to resources, investment incentives, risk management, local partnerships, and alignment with ESG considerations.

Durban ticks every box.

Not only does it offer geographic and logistics infrastructure advantages for new-to-market companies, but its relatively transparent legal processes and widespread use of English in business add up to it being a low-entry threshold country. What’s more, with a rapidly growing tech-oriented middle class, Durban can be an incubator for innovations that can then be expanded to other Sub-Saharan markets beyond the national borders. And given the established presence of South African agencies and companies across the continent, finding the right partner for third markets is a low-risk exercise.

US companies will further find that Durban-based firms are receptive to the concept of partnering, whether via agency, licensing, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, or some form of reciprocal arrangement to access the US market in return. In short, the opportunities are many and the can-do attitude is strong here.

The spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that prevails across the Durban region equates to unrivalled opportunity for US investors seeking the best gateway into Africa and the greatest new market on Earth.

Rwanda: The Land of a Thousand Opportunities

Rwanda, the small but mighty nation in the Great Rift Valley of central Africa, is known as ‘the land of a thousand hills.’

Perhaps a more appropriate moniker would be ‘the land of a thousand opportunities’, for here, a can-do attitude is helping to pioneer an ambitious and forward-looking new narrative that seeks to harness the unfulfilled potential of the continent and has Rwanda on a fast track to becoming the Singapore of Africa.

No longer are African nations defined by their dependent and subordinate relationships with this or that global power, but rather, setting their own agendas and striking partnerships with any number of suitors as they see fit.

Africa is the future. Rwanda is at the forefront of that future and the world is waking up to that fact. Soon those that would court Rwanda will be beating a path to its door for a piece of the action. The wisest investors are getting in early to share in this inevitable bounty and eyeing up returns no other region on Earth can hope to deliver.

Rwanda offers up some of the most fertile conditions for investment and has undertaken a process of diversification that has financial services and fintech at its heart, but which has also created myriad opportunities in transport and logistics, health, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy distribution and transmission, off-grid energy, agriculture and agro-processing, affordable housing, tourism services, ICT, mining, construction and real estate.

Over recent years, a series of legislative and regulatory developments have helped Rwanda both improve the business climate and in turn, FDI flows.

This included a 2021 law to attract talent and to promote innovation and diversification, as well as laws around insurance, central banking, capital markets, collective investment schemes, foundations, trusts, data protection and digital assets, alongside enhanced dispute resolution mechanisms.

Yet, perhaps the most significant piece of legislation was the 2015 investment code, which brought in tax breaks and other incentives for investors, while removing obstacles such as limits on foreign ownership or control.

As a result, international companies establishing their headquarters or regional office in Rwanda can now benefit from a preferential corporate income tax rate of 0%. Meanwhile any investor can look to rate of 15%, a corporate income tax holiday of up to 7 years, exemption from taxation on capital gains and of customs tax for products used in Export Processing Zones, as well as VAT refunds.

In addition, new measures are in place designed to lead to greater coordination between the various institutions governing and regulating FDI, while ongoing liberal policies from Rwanda’s Kagame administration are helping to make Rwanda a trade and services hub. Beyond financial services and fintech, aquamarine, ruby and sapphire resources have also been identified as untapped future commodity drivers of Rwanda’s prosperity, while it has been determined that the country’s significant tourism potential must also be capitalised upon.

Rwanda is, of course, not without its challenges, and those presented by landlockedness, low human resources capacity, poor infrastructure, political instability in neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes region, and the high dependence on commodity prices are perhaps the most acute. Yet despite this, and like so many countries that have experienced national trauma, so has followed a rebirth that has allowed for a new dawn.

Modern Rwanda is on a mission, and this has found particular expression in the restructuring of the local banking and financial sector to make it the preferred destination for sophisticated and compliant financial services and cross-border financial transactions within Africa.

Institutions, capital markets, regulatory, legal and compliance frameworks have all been subject to deep dive reforms, while the Rwanda stock exchange is rapidly growing in stature. In parallel, there has been marked progress around AML and CFT, while Rwanda can also point to numerous double taxation avoidance agreements (DTAAs).

The Kigali International Finance Centre (KIFC) is set to transform Rwanda’s capital into a globally renowned financial hub and will act to drive the creation of highly skilled employment in that sector. Its existence is set to help cement Rwanda’s status as a safe and compliant jurisdiction for those looking to structure and domicile investments in Africa.

Durban = Double Digit Growth Opportunities

South Africa is the premium springboard into the African continent, offering a platform into one of the world’s last frontiers of double-digit growth opportunities.

So says Russell Curtis, CEO of Invest Durban. Here is a man with reason to be passionate about the metropolitan region he is tasked with attracting new investment into, alongside retaining and expanding that which is already there.

Part of Invest Durban’s mandate is to promote the destination internationally. This has seen the CEO recently take his message to North America, an untapped source market for FDI that is now coming to understand all that South Africa has to offer.

Global-wide interest
Previously, perceptions around South Africa, its far-flung nature and the sheer size of the North American domestic market meant investors there had not looked much beyond their own backyard. However, thanks to outreach initiatives like Russell Curtis’ mission, this is changing. Alongside increasing interest form Asian investors and the traditional strong flows from Europe, Durban is buzzing.

In addition, the CEO oversees Invest Durban’s advocacy remit which extends to policy to create the right facilitation and enabling environment to drive investment. Investors should take note that across all indices, audits indicate the organisation is exceeding expectations and targets set by independent actors including the World Bank.

Curtis recognises that global trade is dominated by the multinationals. One of the messages he wants to get out there is that Durban has a very large resident base of them, which translates into an uninterrupted buffet of opportunities for investors to tap into. Whether it’s providing ready access to things the transnational corporations currently import into Durban, or value added to products and services, such as enhanced processing capacity for the metals and mining sector, the possibilities are many and profound.

Higher risks, higher rewards
The Invest Durban CEO is clear that investors are aware African investment hotspots such as Durban have higher risks, but at the same time come with higher reward potential.

By any measure, the last two or three years – with Covid and two major floods in quick succession visited upon the region – have seen Durban’s investment allure challenged. Yet, still investors keep coming, and that’s because it constitutes one of the premium investment gateways into South Africa’s market and that of Southern Africa beyond.

Inevitably, industrial and tourism infrastructure development slowed somewhat as capital had to be diverted to address immediate challenges regarding wastewater treatment and electricity distribution. However, looked at through another lens, this has acted to bring forward conversations and action about the need for more robust PPPs to develop and manage such facilities.

Turning challenges into opportunity
There is a recognition that no one stakeholder has the resources and leverage to fix things, and so it has forced everyone together. Over last 2/3 years business leadership has not wasted some of the crises visited upon Durban to engage with the parastatals and the SOEs on a much more robust and direct level to develop a partnership approach to address challenges and capitalise on opportunities.

Strategically, investors are able to look beyond these temporary phenomena and integrate the potential for regular choppy waters into the African business case. It’s a medium to long term business view that’s adopted.

Specifically with reference to securing a reliable power supply, existing commercial and industrial investors are increasingly investing in their own power generation, such as PV to inure themselves from the vagaries of the National Grid. In addition to being risk mitigative, this is also serving to create an additional asset class and income stream for certain businesses.

Meanwhile, Transnet National Ports Authority have already shortlisted a number of global consortiums to co-invest at an equity level in the port system. This move towards equity-based PPPs with the port authority along with outright concessioning of certain elements to the private sector marks a paradigm shift from the playing field that has existed since the dawn of democracy. And according to Russell Curtis, this is just the start of a process that will see a greater number, spread and diversity of partnerships with business at both an equity and operating level.

Tourism asset development
Durban has been especially successful in attracting investments into the ICT/BPO space, but where it has not been so strong, according to Russell Curtis, is in tourism asset development. Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly Covid–related, which has seen the likes of British Airways drop it from its routes, but it also relates to Durban’s airport having formerly been strategically classified as a spoke, rather than a hub facility, meaning fewer direct international flights and so a lower profile among international tourists and potential investors. As such a lot of work is going into expanding the number of both scheduled and charter flights into Durban from traditional and new markets and in drumming up resources for new assets across the region, through the likes of tourism investment symposiums. With its 100km of uninterrupted golden sands and warm Indian Ocean seas, tourism is a hugely underdeveloped sector here.

While the South African market has sufficient scale in its own right to attract and justify investment, once established, investors are increasingly broadening their horizons and looking to access the wider African market of 1.3 billion people. In this endeavour they are assisted by a free-trade oriented cross-border marketplace across the continent. This means African companies can be at the forefront when it comes to capitalising on these exciting new markets.

Durban’s USPs
A big determinant of greenfield investment is the context of the environment in which expats may find themselves. In this regard, Durban scores highly, offering for multinational executives a balanced lifestyle of business and pleasure. Durban has the industrial capacity, it has the robust port and logistics distribution network, but it also offers an unrivalled quality of life, and when it comes to choosing where to invest this, can make all the difference. The city is also attracting a significant pool of skilled labour from elsewhere within South Africa for the same reason.

For the increasingly important remote working dynamic, Durban has fantastic fibre connectivity that’s competitively priced, which is also why it’s proving to be such a draw for all sorts of ICT-focused industries. Shared services is an exemplar of Durban’s cost competitiveness – with investors able to draw on a talent pool that exists at scale, numbering some 13 million people across the KwaZulu Natal Province, with 4 million of those concentrated in the Durban metropolitan area. It is why Toyota’s African car plant is here and also the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies, which is looking to develop Africa’s next generation of manufacturing leaders.

On the education front, Durban can point to the University of KwaZulu Natal, which is the second largest direct contact university in Africa with 45,000 students and incorporates the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine.

Another important yardstick for investors is the region’s capacity to retain labour. Despite competitive labour costs, Durban has markedly low staff turnover and a stable labour base. This equates to increased productivity as people stay in jobs for longer, so reducing retraining and recruitment costs.

The fact of English being the official business language is a potent draw for investors commercially, legislatively and contractually. For those with an international outlook the lack of language barriers makes for a rewarding customer experience, and also helps to build trade bridges with other anglophone economies in Africa.

Awash with opportunity
As to the premium opportunities right now in Durban for investors, the Invest Durban CEO is particularly keen to draw the spotlight onto the untapped potential of the health, pharma and life science arenas. Durban enjoys a rich history at the forefront of African medicine, so to tap into that would be to resonate with the majority market before moves to scale with global certifications.

In addition, Russell Curtis speaks frequently of the huge potential in the contact centre space, which is already attracting significant interest from big global tech, alongside those in financial services and healthcare. Meanwhile, in Durban’s public sector infrastructure space there exists vast market demand around areas such as digital infrastructure and potable waste-water treatment. A financing gap translates to PPP opportunities for global players with the relevant expertise.