November 30, 2018 / 8:49 AM / 15 days ago

Rwanda's Bank of Kigali to set aside $40 mln for lending to firms

NAIROBI, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Rwanda’s Bank of Kigali will spend more than half of the $67.5 million it raised from a cash call this month to boost lending to local firms, its chief executive said.

The economy of the East African nation, one of the fastest growing in the region, is expected to expand by 6-7 percent this year on the back of rising exports, driving demand for borrowing by firms to fund expansion, said the CEO.

“Around $40 million of the capital we have raised is going to go into our banking business. This will allows us to lend more and increase our single (borrower) limit,” Diane Karusisi told Reuters after some of the bank’s shares were listed on the Nairobi bourse.

“To the blue chip companies in our country this is very good news because we will be able to support the growth opportunities.”

MTN Rwanda, the biggest mobile operator, closed a syndicated loan deal for 50 billion francs ($56 million) with eight local lenders this week, showing the potential for corporate lending, Karusisi said.

“We have many similar opportunities in Rwanda,” she said.

A portion of the balance of the funds raised by the bank, which is the biggest lender in the country, would go towards setting up a life insurance business. About $10 million will go towards bolstering its IT systems to support digital banking.

“We believe that just like the Kenyan market has done, we are going to be able to provide all financial services at the fingertips of our clients on mobile,” Karusisi said.

Bank of Kigali is the first Rwandan company to list on the Nairobi Securities Exchange and the second in East Africa after Ugandan power firm Umeme, which listed shares in 2012.

Bank of Kigali shares came at a reference price of 30 shillings ($0.29) and bidders were offering 32.50 shillings after trading started. ($1 = 889.8493 Rwandan francs) ($1 = 102.5000 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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