Economies in some once prosperous countries in Africa are struggling. Some of these countries have been ruled by authoritarian regimes which, after decades of brutal repression, mismanagement and lack of vision, appear to have run out of options. The leaders of these countries can no longer hide the troubling trends of their economies. Traditional international organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the USAID, and others have moved or started to move away. Now, the leaders of these countries, desperate, are turning to unusual sources of funding. Among these unusual fundings are two related companies, owned or managed by the leaders of one of the poorest countries in Africa: Rwanda. Meanwhile, the Rwandan economy is in shambles, with the debt to Gross Domestic Product(GDP) ratio of more than 75% as of 2021 and growing.
The two companies are Crystal Ventures LTD and SouthBridge LTD.
Crystal Ventures LTD, a company owned by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the long term Rwandan Ruling Party,
Crystal Ventures LTD is a holding company controlled by Rwanda’s ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, and hence the Rwandan dictator, General Paul Kagame.
The Rwanda’s largest investment firm, Crystal Ventures LTD has a vast portfolio that includes dairy products, agriculture, hotel management, banking, private security companies, and many more industries across various sectors. It is estimated that Crystal Ventures LTD employs thousands of employees and generates annual revenues of hundreds of millions of dollars. A large fortune in Africa.
Recently, Crystal Ventures and the Congo Republic signed an contract to develop an industrial zone in Maloukou, near Brazzaville, the capital. Congo Republic is led by a long lasting dictator, Denis Sassou Nguesso (see here: (see AfroAmerica Network: Kleptocrat Dictators: US Department of Justice Steps Up Investigation Efforts) and here: Kleptocrat Dictators and Sons: US vs. Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso ). The project budget is estimated to be around $200 million.
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SouthBridge LTD: A business empire created and led by Paul Kagame’s ruling party leaders.
SouthBridge is a financing advisory firm headquartered in Abidjan, Ivory Coast with offices in Kigali - Rwanda, Paris- France, London- UK, Abidjan - Ivory Coast, Casablanca - Morocco, Mauritius, and Lagos - Nigeria. Expandint on Crystal Ventures businesses, SouthBridge offers services across several financial verticals and areas, including banking, fund structuring, merger and acquisitions, debt and equity transactions, middle-market advisory, sovereign advisory, restructuring, and shareholder advisory. The business has estimated annual revenues between US$500 million and $1 Billion.
Donald Kaberuka, a former Rwanda’s finance minister under General Paul Kagame's RPF government between 1997-2005 and a former African Development Bank director, is one of the founders and SouthBridge’s managing partners. The other founder and managing director is Lionel Zinsou, a former Prime Minister of Benin and a former high ranking French government official. Recently, Emeryc Kpenou, a Beninese, French and British citizen, joined as a managing director.
As a member of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Donald Kaberuka was also a member of RPF’s politburo, the principal policymaking committee of the party, responsible for managing open and concealed resources of the ruling elite. The managing director is John Birungi, a former chief executive of Crystal Ventures Ltd. Hence, it is believed that the de facto main owners of SouthBridge may include the Rwandan dictator, General Paul Kagame.
As of 2021, SouthBridge claims to have signed 12 contracts in Morocco, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Cameroon, DRC, Rwanda and Tanzania in the telecoms and energy sectors. It also claims to have several multilateral development banks as clients, including the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), and the Common Market for Eastern, and Southern Africa’s development bank.
Rwanda: Expanding a Business Empire in Africa while the Rwandan Economy is Struggling
With SouthBridge and Crystal Ventures projects around Africa, especially in countries led by autocratic regimes, most of them failing, Rwanda dictator Paul Kagame is slowly gaining power of these countries, Meanwhile, Rwanda itself, under the leadership of the Rwandan Patriotic Front that owns SouthBridge and Crystal Ventures is drowning under debts. As of December 2021, the debt has risen to 75.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according Rwandan Minister of Finance, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana. External debt represents 57.8%, whereas internal represents 17.8%. The debt to GDP is expected to grow to more than 78% by the end of 2022.
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