Home Blog Page 3

Choosing a Rental Car for Travels in Rwanda

0
Car Rentals in Rwanda

Are you planning for a self drive safari in Rwanda? Would you like to take your rented car and adventure in the neighboring destinations? Here are hints to help you plan a perfect trip! This information will help you to decide which type of car you should use if you are to adventure through East Africa trouble freely.

In most cases tourists ask us this question when they inquire for their safaris to either Uganda or Rwanda or even both and we go on and advice. But it’s always a good practice to make your own choice so that you can have the best experience on the safari without any inconveniences related to the car used. Choosing the type of car to hire depends on what type tourism activity you are going to do and the number of people you are travelling with. Sometimes clients inquire with us and they want small cars yet they are many in number. We always advise them to go for bigger cars like vans which can accommodate their number. Its always good to travel with a classic touch and freedom other than travelling while congested in a small car. Small cars like saloons and small Benz’s are suitable to use if clients are 2 or 3 but not more than that as it would mean to squeeze yourself which is not good.

Te distance to be travelled and the destination that you want to go to is also important while selecting the type car to hire. If you know that you are travelling for longer distances and to places which are challenging with undulating typologies and hills, then the best type of car to hire is that with a 4×4 wheel drive system. This is because 4×4 cars can penetrate through muddy roads and hills without any problem and without getting stuck. Sometimes people make wrong choices and they go with cars which are not fulltime 4×4 and they end up getting stuck in muddy roads forcing them to hire another towing car to remove them from the mud. This is bad as it leads to increase in the expenses. The only way to avoid this is by hiring a 4×4 wheel drive car which cannot easily get stuck in such conditions.

It should be noted that both Uganda and Rwanda have some places with bad roads and this is common in national parks especially in Uganda where there are animals to be viewed. Such parks require 4×4 cars for a game drive experience .safari vehicles like 4×4 land cruisers with a popup roof are the best cars to use for a successful game drive. In case one needs to go for a town running (driving around the town) then he/she can book these other cars which have no 4×4 system because roads in all urban places kin both Uganda and Rwanda are in good conditions and no threat is imposed to the user.

When you book with us we always ask you what you intend to use the car for and we give advice when it comes to choosing the type of car to use. Some clients seem to be complicated and ignore our advise because they think roads in Uganda and Rwanda are like those in their home countries and they end up making mistakes which are regrettable. And at the end of their safari they regret why they ignored our advice.

In conclusion, you should always put in mind two factor before selecting which type of car to use and that is;- the destination you are going to and the number of people you are traveling with.

Rwanda: A Honey Moon Safari Destination

0
Honeymoon in Rwanda

It’s very important to plan your Honey moon on an African continent particularly Rwanda the land of a ‘’Thousand Hills’’. Rwanda is a magnificent beautiful country that offers a perfect honey moon destination in Africa. The country has favorable year round weather which means it can be visited at any month of the year depending on the traveler’s interest, its adventurous filled with scenic wonders, indeed it’s the right country to visit as you begin your marriage safari journey, it’s a perfect location to relax and enjoy Africa at its best.

Rwanda is a country of Choice for those that are looking for a truly unique off the beaten path experience in the heart of Africa, one of Africa’s most scenic. Spending the honey moon deep in the volcanoes national park forest with the most interesting to see endangered mountain gorilla is a memorable moment in life very difficult to forget, these apes are magnificent to watch in their natural habitat, the one hour you are allowed to stay with these animals is a life time experience one should not love to miss especially when you begin your marriage. Nothing is more adventurous than hiking and tracking chimpanzee and other primates in African Amazon the larges African montane forest (Nyungwe Forest National Park). Sharing the love of gorillas with that of chimps is regarded as a magical experience one should not love to miss on such a life time experience.

Rwanda offers you what is beyond your imagination, it’s one of the smallest countries in the world with no seaport, Lake Kivu offers you Africa inland cost with one of the best lodges beyond your imagination and adventure that gives you long lasting memories, you will enjoy beach activities like swimming, touring to nearby islands among more.

Kigali which is the largest and the capital city of Rwanda is one of the visited incredible Rwanda cleanest safest towns of Africa. Rwanda is known as one of the stable countries and your time here will be without worry of potential safety security problems, so you will be safe during your stay here. Everything in Rwanda superb ranging from the rare mountain gorillas, primates, wildlife, birds to luxury lodging all will meet your needs and beyond.

Depending on your plan, you can also extend your honey moon safari to Uganda where you can continue with wildlife viewing, chimpanzee and gorilla tacking, hiking and also white water rafting on the River Nile. Your safari can begin in Kigali and end in Entebbe -Uganda the pearl of Africa without long drive times and enjoy a True Africa beyond your imagination. Book with us we can design your honey moon safari the way you desire it to be, contact us for more information.

A Safari to Remember in Rwanda

0
Rwanda Mountain Gorilla

Many things make a Rwanda safari a memorable one but a magical encounter with the endangered mountain gorillas can’t be forgotten. I went with my wife on a gorilla safari to Rwanda after my friend who had got that chance some time back told me how magnificent it is to sit among the remaining gorilla in their natural habitat. I had doubt because I didn’t know that you can meet these look to be tough apes in a close distance. I sat with my wife and planned this safari ounce in a life time to Africa.

We planned to travel in December to have our X-mass in the forests of volcanoes national park in Rwanda. We wrote to different tour and travel companies until we when we chose Gorilla Safaris Adventure, they charged us a fair price we took a 4 day gorilla and Diane Fossey hike safari Rwanda. They have good people right from those working in office to the field guides, Mbazira our tour consultant was there to give us any informative information about gorillas and Rwanda in general before we started our safari.

As soon as we arrived at Kigali international airport our safari guide was their waiting for us to take us to our booked accommodation in Kigali, he briefed about the whole safari we, slept at frame tree Hotel, the following day we were pick up by our safari guide who took us for a Kigali city tour were we visited very many interesting places around the city like the genocide memorial, national museum, market places, we took lunch from one of the beautiful restaurant in the city after we drove up to our booked lodge in the Volcanoes National Park for refreshment and overnight (Le Bambou Lodge).

On the day of our scheduled tracking, we walked up every early for breakfast and then after our guide drove us to the park headquarters in Kinigi where we met other trackers, we received briefings from the park wardens about the whole process of gorilla tracking/trekking and from here we got assigned to the different tracking groups . We were assigned to a gorilla group called Kwitonda, we escorted the ranger guide to the forest, and everyone was excited about the activity. Our ranger guide was informative and he answered which ever question was asked and he gave us all necessary information on any species we met on the way during the search of our cousins.

Once we were about to meet these apes, the ranger guide alarmed us as he was in position to know where they are through their nest and dung he met after a long search. after a short while we met a group of gorillas with a dominant silver back which was sited on the ground critically looking at us eye to eye everyone was curious to have a close contact of a silver back, without a blink of an eye other members come around as if they were aware that we are coming. The ranger was there to guide us as we spot these apes. We took as many photos as well we can while studding their behaviors. In fact the one hour allowed with these apes is not enough because I was still interested in watching them, but we had to leave and return back to the park headquarters, each received a certificate for participating in gorilla tracking.

Our guide drove us back to the lodge for relaxation as the evening was waiting us for a community walk, where we met the Batwa pygmy. They performed us several activities including singing and dancing as well as teaching us their hunting skills. We come back to the lodge for dinner and an overnight, the night was full of memories of the day’s activities majorly the long life experience gorilla tracking. The next day was spent hiking the Diane grave yard; here we received more information about how she conducted her research on the gorillas for over 18 years before she was killed by the said poachers.

Our stay in Rwanda was a short-lived although we enjoyed a lot, next time we are planning a longer safari than that one we took, we are thinking of doing Uganda and Rwanda hope it will be more fantastic.

Best Time to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

0
Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is one of the safari activities that is loved by many tourists when they visit this country because of the various types of groups of gorillas which was before in to wars thanks to the peace that was restored by the new government. In doing so, gorilla tracking has been one of the iconic activities since the Rwanda tourism board introduced a ceremony of naming newly born Gorillas called Kwita Izina and it is carried out mainly in Volcanoes National Park which is located in the north west of the country bordering Rwanda, Congo and Uganda. This activity has been mostly enjoyed and done by foreign tourists because of its prices that are cheap compared to the dollar rates. When you try to compare gorilla trekking in Rwanda and in the other countries like Uganda were it is done in bwindi impenetrable national park and DRC, you may wonder why Rwanda receives more than ever before.

Although countries like Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo do this activity as also as their main safari activity that brings in more income compared to other activities, Rwanda leads all of them in terms of number of tourists yearning for this activity. More so when you look at the permits that are given at US$750 that are higher than the rest of the countries (Uganda and DRC) because they do offer reliable good accommodation compared to other countries when it comes to offering good services to tourists.

To enjoy this activity in particular, there are number factors that are needed or considered when doing this activity one of them is climate and weather of the given national park. Mountain Gorilla tracking is mostly done in dry conditions which are favorable to both the tourists and the primates themselves.

To perform this activity in a wide scale, the dry periods of June to September, then from December, January and February are the best periods receiving good temperatures that favor gorilla tracking in volcanoes national park. it is for this reason that during this period, roads leading to the park in most cases are not muddy  which eases movements of cars driving tourists to the national park and also, with in the park most especially when there is a safari that is going on.

Furthermore, in this period, prices for gorilla tracking tend to be high than other periods because tourists tend to be many because of the favorable climate that does not stop them from trekking. When you look at these primates in this period, their movements is limited in other words, they tend hide since in that time, there is limited food that is already for eating meaning taking gorilla tracking as an activity may take long to finish as the activity may even start from morning until in the evening hours trekking for a specific gorilla family unlike in other periods which are wet.

When you look at another side of the coin, the wet periods of March, April and May tend to be wet making the movements of the tourists more difficult or limited causing a scare to the tourism industry in terms of revenue to the government. During this season, at the top most of highlands in volcanoes national park, temperatures tend to be cooler. And that is why gorilla tracking in this period takes a short period of time from 1 to 2 hours because these primates do not normally move a lot when food is not in plenty. It is for this reason that tourists end up doing a double trek than what they asked to do.

18 Baby Mountain Gorillas Named at 2015 Kwita Izina

0
Kwita Izina

Recently Rwandans celebrated the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the naming ceremony of these rare mountain gorillas took place on July 3rd 2015 at the slopes of Virunga mountains at Kinigi in the north western part of Rwanda. More than 40,000 residents from Musanze and all over Rwanda and visitors from the entire world attended the ceremony. Every year Rwanda organize this event as a way of naming new born mountain gorillas and also to promoted tourism and this year’s Kwita Izina was held under the theme: “A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing.”

As he was speaking, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza of Rwanda Development Board (RDB)’ CEO said: “this is the 10th time as we celebrate, the growth of the gorilla family by naming 18 baby gorillas born over the last year this is a very big number as compared to previous years, bringing the total population of these rare species to over 600 individuals in the Virunga mountains.” He added by thanking the good collaboration by the government of Rwanda, the local community neighboring the Volcanoes National Park and conservation partners that are the key people in the increase of these endangered mountain gorillas.

In a special way Rugwabiza thanked the local communities in the sustained conservation of this Volcanoes National Park Rwanda especially the protection of the gorillas and their habitat without their effort to stop poaching activities gorillas would be no more in the volcanoes tropical forest.

Various activities were organized to mark the 10th Kwita Izina ceremony including conservation, business, cultural and entertainment that led up to the big day. There was also the launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District in the northern part of Rwanda. The school was constructed by the local community surrounding the park from the shared revenue scheme which gives 5% of tourism profits from the national park to the local community and the school contains six classrooms.

Craig Sholley the Vice president of philanthropy and marketing for the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) was invited on behalf of (AWF) to vote on the gorilla names, during his speech he said “You cannot succeed in conserving these critically endangered species without the collaboration and support of the people who live closest to them, without their effort the life of these mountain gorillas is in danger. “The Kwita Izina ceremony shows that, from the government to the local communities, protection of mountain gorillas stems from a sense of duty and a source of pride,” he said.

About 120 local and international tour operators was part of the ceremony and they came to experience Rwanda and took park in business-to-business meetings organized with Rwanda Air. Also the Kwita Izina guests joined in Global Umuganda (community work) in Nyamata. They also partook in the Igitaramo, a community celebration with residents in Kinigi, Musanze district at which local artist Jay Polly performed. In the past nine years since the event was established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the majestic mountain gorilla.

Kagame: “We Can’t Accept Terrorism In Mali”

0

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has said the crisis in Mali is of concern to every African because it threatens not only the security and stability of that country, but also that of the entire region and beyond.

Speaking at the AU summit at the debate on Mali on Monday following a briefing on the situation by President Dioncounda Traore, President Kagame said:

“Africa cannot, and should not, fold its arms when terrorist and criminal groups are occupying over half the territory of a Member State, carrying out the most atrocious crimes against innocent civilians and destroying monuments that are of great significance to Africa’s heritage and civilization.”

Making reference to other engaged, dedicated and patriotic and pan-Africanist Malian leaders Modibo Keita, the country’s first President and President Alpha Omar Konare, former chair of the AU Commission, President Kagame said he had no doubt that President Dioncounda Traore was determined to preserve and strengthen Mali’s invaluable contribution to the advancement of our continent.

Kagame urged total solidarity and unreserved support from the AU in order to solve the challenges facing Mali”

“It is about creating conditions for the speedy deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali and sustaining its operations. AFISMA is needed more than ever before to help the Malian army complete the liberation of the northern part of the country,” said Kagame.

“And, in so doing, the Mission will assist in creating conducive conditions for a genuine political process that would see Malians of all walks of life sit together to develop a consensus on what they need to do collectively to sustain peace, ensure security and promote unity and reconciliation in their country.”

Kagame proposed that part of the funding, up to 50 million US Dollars, for AFISMA and the Malian Defense and Security Forces be allocated from AU arrear contributions, the Peace Fund and assessed contributions, a provision reflected in the draft solemn declaration on Mali.

President Kagame cited several examples that illustrated Africa’s capability when the continent has successfully mustered the political will.

“A few years ago, Comoros was seeking our help to restore its authority over the island of Anjouan. We decided at an AU Summit in 2008 to mount an African force to provide the requested assistance,” Kagame reminded his fellow Presidents.

“Sudan and Tanzania provided the troops, while other African countries contributed technical and financial support. We successfully carried out the operation, in spite of our limited means.”

He added: “Darfur in 2004 and Somalia since 2007, when Uganda and Burundi stepped in, are other examples of successful African endeavors, when odds seemed to be against us.”

Kagame said that as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Rwanda would build on the decision taken by the AU on the draft solemn declaration on Mali to push forward a request for a UN support package funded through UN-assessed contributions.

Rwanda Development Board set to Grade 30 More Hotels this Year

0

The Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department will grade at least 30 more hotels this year, following the start of the exercise last year. Using the East African Community’s guidelines for grading and classification of hotels and other hospitality businesses, RDB is reportedly committed to play their part in ensuring that standards and quality of tourism establishments in Rwanda are uplifted to match if not exceed those of their neighbors in the East African community.

Presently only the Kigali Serena Hotel and the Nyungwe Forest Lodge by DubaiWorld hold the coveted 5-star ranking, while a number of other Kigali hotels were graded as 4-star properties, as was the Lake Kivu Serena. A number of other establishments have requested to be put on the list for upcoming inspections to ensure they can also publicly announce and display their star rating once the exercise is complete.

Those already graded will, however, also undergo a fresh audit to ensure that standards established at first inspection will have been maintained to ensure continued high ranking, also giving others the opportunity to attain a further star, should improvement made over the past two years warrant such a decision.

“When you were here last time we discussed the very issue of standards. Rwanda is a niche destination, still largely focused on gorilla trekking. The new products launched over the past two or three years, however, have attracted a lot of attention. Hiking is now a regular activity in Nyungwe Forest, Gishwati Forest, and along the Congo-Nile Trail. Birding has become an important additional niche.

“It is now important to raise our standards so when visitors come to Rwanda as an extension of their Kenya or Tanzania holiday they get the best possible quality, in guides, in infrastructure, and, of course, in hospitality. There is always room to improve, but we have made it our mission to accomplish certain goals sooner rather than later. When the new Marriott will open, it will compete at level terms with the Serena, and that is good for the country as it offers another 5-star choice.

“Our MICE business is growing strongly, too, and that segment of the market in particular is really very much interested in quality facilities. Rwanda is going places,” said a source in Kigali working at a hotel but, for not being the official company spokesperson had to opt for an off-the-record comment.

Who owns Crystal Ventures

0

Following the 1994 genocide in Rwanda the country was written off in almost everything.

The surviving population was looking up to the new leaders not only for political leadership but also pulling the country out of the abyss it had fallen.

RPF seems not to have disappointed. It used the balance in its war kit to embark on the long journey of reconstructing the country with the creation of Crystal Venture as its development arm Dispatch’s Magnus Mazimpaka talked to the company’s Chairman NshutiMannaseh.

What is the value of Crystal Ventures at this moment?

The worth of a business is not a constant figure. It is based on cash flows, based on sales volumes and based on good will, but the company is worth around U$ 500 million.

There is conflicting knowledge about Crystal Ventures’ ownership and its investment philosophy. Some people relate it to RPF, some relate it to government, while others relate it to members of RPF. Is this Crystal Ventures’ deliberate strategy?

I think that is lack of information, wrong perceptions and prejudices.

Crystal Ventures is an investment arm of the RPF, where the party invests with other shareholders in different ventures. We get no favours from government.

The party simply happens to be a shareholder. Party members had their money and decided to invest that money in ventures that are profitable.

But one has to look at it from a certain perspective. We had a country that had been shattered by the genocide. At that time people didn’t have hope that the country would bounce back.

There were no numbers to attract an investor; and the environment was crazy.

For instance at that point, everyone needed water, milk, juice and so on, and yet nobody would have invested in a venture like Inyange ltd.

We also invested in construction where nobody could invest or did not want to invest. Most of the Rwandese businessmen at the time were speculative and wanted to make quick money.

Nobody would have put money in a construction company.

I mentioned this when I was still the Minister of Commerce and it was not well received. We realized it was not good business and not good for the economy either.

So, RPF decided to invest in areas where nobody could invest, partly because people didn’t have money to invest, but also we did it to give hope to Rwandans that the country would bounce back.

We had to send a signal that there was something happening to other investors.

Can you explain more about that investment philosophy or approach?

We are in business to make money, but we are also mindful of our customers.

We balance the issues of profitability and social responsibility, by investing in profitable areas that can sustain business, and areas where government would want investors, but they are not there.

We invest in such areas knowing we shall make money in the long run.

Let’s set the record clear. Is crystal Ventures RPF’s company or it belongs to RPF members?

Crystal Ventures is for RPF members, much as we share other investments with other shareholders such as Social Security Fund CSSR, private and foreign investors.

The board-elect looks at the interests of RPF as a party, not individuals. No individual has money in Crystal Ventures.

No individual will come and ask for a cheque. In any case, the money that was invested in Crystal Ventures was money left after the war.

You were Minister of Commerce, Finance, held different strategic government posts, including being advisor to the President. Now that you are Chairman of Crystal Ventures, how do you personally not push government in that regard?

No Government policy favours Crystal Ventures because the company is purely private.

If you bring Politics, then you are not in Crystal Ventures. We had money after the war. So we said what do we do with the money?

Can we use it to transform the economy? And, how best can we invest this money, because the party eventually needs money for elections and so on.

Instead of the party going to private businesses to finance its activities, which company will hold the party hostage; RPF chose to run its businesses to generate funds to fund its activities.

Of course that was motivated by the fact that RPF wanted sustainable development.

You want to run business and make sustainable cash flows, then run it purely business. You want to kill it; run it politically.

Why wouldn’t RPF ministers, directors in government institutions and other politicians in decision making positions, make policies that favour Crystal Ventures?

Policies formulated by Government pass through the cabinet, which is not necessarily an RPF Cabinet.

But the majority of the cabinet is RPF?

Policies are debated openly, and I don’t think they debate with Crystal Ventures in mind.

Government policies are designed for the country irrespective of which players are there.

With the money RPF members had at hand, they chose to run its businesses to generate cash flows to monitor its activities.

Honestly, we have lost many bids, of course won some, but we have no favours at all.

For example, we lost bids in road and building construction. Most buildings are done by Roko. Strabag International has won road construction, and Chinese companies have won many bids as well.

We don’t complain to government because we know that the best bidders wins.

Can’t awarding a few contracts to other companies be used as blindfold to the public and protecting RFP from public scrutiny?

Crystal Ventures knows that favors are not good for business. We know you can’t survive on political favors.

If we had favors from government we would be making super profits.

What about theaccusation that while other investors struggle to get capital to invest, RPF picks money from government coffers and gives it to Crystal Ventures?

I have heard those accusations, and that is misinformation. First all, we don’t get instructions from the RPF secretariat, we run business purely on professional basis.

If that was the case, they would tell our bidders; ‘don’t go for the envelopes’ then order the tenderer [government institution]‘ to give it to Crystal Ventures but we haven’t had that scenario.

Does that mean you can’t take favours if they came your way?

Nobody would refuse favours. I wish I would get those favours, but we don’t get them, unfortunately. Secondly, it is not good business because you can’t survive on favors.

We don’t have favours at all from anybody. This is true. You can verify from the audits. Actually now we are fighting with the costs.

Rwanda, is to some extent a difficult terrain; but very profitable. Crystal Ventures seems to have mastered the Rwandan market more than any other investor. Can you share with us your experiences?

There are advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that, you can make money [in Rwanda] if the investment is right.

Two, because it’s virgin you can reap money in the first few years before other people come in. But also we have a disadvantage that, the investment may not pick up as faster as you would want it.

RPF went into green investments because nobody was willing to invest in. At the time [after the genocide] we needed a local company as a back-up,for example to do construction.

We invested in high-end machines. We took risks upfront to invest to avoid a scenario of a foreign company failing and then leaving, yet we dint have roads.

Or if Inyange was in the hands of a private person, and he says ‘look, I am not producing milk’, then it is our farmers in Nyagatare or elsewhere that would be in a loss.

I think these are strategic investments that we went into for the benefit of the economy.

Of course we make money, but not a lot. Basically, we go where no one wants to go .

These days we get some money from the banks, in the past we used our own money [savings from the war contributions] to invest, but now sometimes we borrow money from the banks to do the various investments.

Is it because the money from RPF has dried up?

The investments have become quite numbered and the cash flows were not balancing because some are just start-ups, we kept sinking in money down the road.

What is the biggest challenge in the market that fellow investors should know about?

The East African integration has brought in a crazy competition. We have milk from Uganda, which is cheap. Imagine milk all the way from Kampala, but is cheaper than Inyange’s.

There must be something wrong in pricing or they are dumping, or there is corruption; they probably don’t pay taxes at the border. How do we have milk from Uganda that is at the same price or even cheaper than ours?

Water from Kenya is cheaper than ours ,not because Kenya has more water than Rwanda, but what goes on between the company and the market.

The manipulation that goes on is that immense. I can tell you it has nothing to do with the cost, but the manipulation.

You can’t tell me you will transport water from Nairobi and compete with us in Kigali. No.

You can’t if you consider the transport, tax, raw materials, etc.

But assume you put off the tax, and you understate the cost, which most of those companies do, there you can compete.

Are you suggesting Rwandan companies are not benefiting from the EAC integration?

The raw materials in those countries are much cheaper and they have economies of scale.

It is common talk here that Rwandan companies are feeling the heat from the East African integration.

We can’t compete. We would if the field was leveled. In Rwanda we pay taxes for everything, which may not necessarily be the case with the companies in those countries.

That makes the prices of our products slightly higher. But how are you going to compete with someone who has ten containers, pays for one and the rest are duty-free? By the way, there you can even import raw materials duty-free. We can’t do it here. We pay taxes for everything.

There is a public outcry that your products and services are overpriced. The President made similar comments at the launch of the East African Granite Factory.

We sell at the price that can make us earn a profit. However, maybe the president was right given that the average people cannot afford to buy some of the products.

Well, let us go back to RPF. How do RPF members benefit from Crystal Ventures, and who exactly benefits?

If the party wants dividends from our operations, we get it, instead of asking private businesses for funding, like it is done in the western world, in which case company X would ask for benefits in return.

We don’t want anybody to hold the party at ransom. It also gives the party the clout to intervene when nobody can.

Who does Crystal Ventures report to?

It depends on the investment. If it is a co-investment, we report to shareholders. If it is a sole investment, we report to RPF for example, presenting financial reports.

Some members who have fallen out with the RPF, like Karegeya and Kayumbasay the RPF elite class is the only beneficiary of the dividends in Crystal Ventures.

Kayumba knows that we have never used any government money, not even a dollar.

Actually it is the RPF that lent the Central Government money, after the war the Central Bank was broke[bankrupt]. People had looted all the local and foreign currencies.

It is the RPF which lent the Central Government US$9m and government has not paid back that money.

You don’t just take money from the Central Bank, the IMF is there to monitor how government is using the money especially if you have a program funded by them.

Why should the public believe your story and not theirs? You have the power, everything at your disposal, besides they know how RPF works, don’t they?

It is even bizarre to argue that RPF members use government money for their own good.

I can assure you that nobody whether a minister or the president can go to the Central Bank to order for the release of money.

Nothing comes from the Central Bank to Crystal Ventures in terms of money, absolutely nothing.

But Kayumba was on the Board of Directors of Crystal Ventures, so he knows what he is talking about, doesn’t he?

Yes, he was and he knows the truth. Money for Crystal Ventures belongs to members of RPF and the party used part of it to fund its activities.

In the previous elections, Crystal Ventures financed 50% of the RPF budget.

And we are also going to finance the RPF Silver Jubilee celebrations to the tune of Rwf 300 million, which is basically the whole budget.

It should have been the other way round for members to contribute.

How much is the president involved in terms of overseeing both the success of Crystal Ventures and the RPF?

The President being the Chairman of RPF makes him the Chairman of Crystal Ventures but not in the sense of operations.

As the Chairman he would want to know how we are doing, but not on the day-to-day basis.

We may report to him at the end of the year. He is not involved at all in the day-to-day running of the business because he doesn’t have that time.

He trusts that the decisions taken by management are for the good of the businesses.

How do you explain that the president, with vested interests in RPF and Crystal Ventures, going to separate the interests of the two from public interests?

The president doesn’t and can never get involved in the policies that favour RPF and its businesses. If anything he can only get involved in policies that favour the whole business community in Rwanda.

He is the Chairman of RPF, but he is the President of the country as well.

If there was a policy that was not in favour of the whole business community in Rwanda we would approach the Private Sector Federation to engage government for the benefit of all businesses in Rwanda.

Tell me about the offshore investments of RPF?

We have invested in stocks onshore and offshore across the world.

Do you intend to have bigger investments in different countries?

Yes, we have that vision but it depends on the cash flows. Right now we need to consolidate our businesses. Quiet a number of our businesses are start-ups.

And you don’t take on another risk before you do away with the current risks of the start-ups. You take on new risks when you know you have a strong background.

Do ordinary Rwandans benefit from Crystal Ventures?

The benefits are immense. We employ 70,000 people directly and when you add on indirect jobs including contracts, it can go up to 10,000.

Investments in Inyange benefits farmers who supply milk because we pay them. Crystal Ventures has constructed feeder roads in rural areas where other companies were not willing to invest.

Crystal Ventures is among the big taxpayers in the country. I think people should be appreciative that it was a brilliant idea to establish Crystal Ventures.

Crystal Ventures will keep on growing as a big holding company, of course subject to consolidating our investments and going to the regional market.

We need to have another Inyange in Uganda and Burundi. We need also to continue investing in the areas where people don’t want to invest in or don’t have money to invest in.