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Rwanda plots a capital market course

Many Rwandans questioned the need for the country’s inaugural Eurobond. Initial plans were derailed by the UN. But its successful performance has encouraged policymakers to deepen the country’s capital markets and create a unique business platform.

Sitting behind her cluttered desk, Kampeta Sayinzoga, permanent secretary at Rwanda’s ministry of finance, is late for our interview. But rather than apologize for the delay, Sayinzoga appears pretty pleased with herself. Perhaps it’s because she has finally succeeded in plotting an initial timetable for a series of local-currency sovereign bonds for the coming two years – after a very lengthy meeting with senior finance ministry officials and the central bank. For Sayinzoga, it’s the right time for the country to offer more debt and begin developing a yield curve. Part of the reason is to keep the momentum going following the successful Eurobond in April.

On April 25, Rwanda’s $400 million, 10-year Eurobond went to market with a coupon of 6.625% and an order book of $3.5 billion – tighter than expected and eight-and-a-half times oversubscribed. BNP Paribas and Citi were the lead managers.

At less than $500 million, Rwanda’s bond didn’t make the cut for JPMorgan’s emerging market bond indices, which could have triggered additional demand from index trackers and encouraged secondary-market liquidity. But for Sayinzoga this wasn’t an issue. "People continuously ask us why we didn’t upsize our issue to $500 million, but we always give them the same answer: we are not borrowing for the sake of borrowing but because we have projects that can absorb these funds and give good returns.

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