politics

Rwanda to Issue Mining Licenses to Boost Investment by a Fifth

  • New permits for tantalum, tin, wolfram to be issued this year
  • Government seeking investors for innovation hub, tourism

Rwanda will issue 50 new licenses to mine metals including gold, tin and tantalum this year that may help boost investment in the East African nation by a fifth, the Rwanda Development Board said.

The state-run board expects to attract $2 billion of investment in 2018, compared with $1.67 billion last year, Chief Executive Officer Clare Akamanzi said in an interview in the capital, Kigali. It’s also seeking $200 million for a new innovation center in the city, and is planning a project known as Kivu Belt to boost tourism, she said.

“We are expecting 50 new licenses this year in different areas, most especially in tantalum, coltan, tin and wolfram, and we’re also expecting concessions in gold,” Akamanzi said. The agency plans to advertise the new permits “very soon,” she said.

Rwanda is expanding its mining industry as it seeks to accelerate growth to 7 percent this year from about 6 percent in 2017, President Paul Kagame said in an interview in November. The country is the world’s second-biggest producer of tantalum, a mineral extracted from coltan, an ore, that’s used to make components in smartphones, and Africa’s third-largest tin miner, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Airport Project

The government also expects to draw investment for the Bugesera International Airport, the first phase of which is being built in the south of the country by Mota-Engil SGPS SA of Portugal, Akamanzi said. The project will cost $700 million and the first phase, including a 1.7 million-passenger terminal, is expected to be completed by December 2019, she said.

Mota-Engil and state-owned Aviation Travel & Logistics Co. are in talks with other potential investors “who can come in and take both equity and debt to complement the investment,” Akamanzi said. “We expect by April 2018 the government and Mota-Engil will have reached a financial close.”

Among the board’s other plans:

  • The board is working with two investors that it didn’t identify on the initial phase of the Kigali Innovation City, which Rwanda plans to use to attract companies including IBM Corp., Alphabet Inc. and Ericsson AB
  • The RDB has appointed Howarth Financial Services to advise on the Kivu Belt project, which seeks to develop tourism in the western region; the country, famous for its gorillas, expects tourism revenue to grow 10 percent this year to $440 million
  • The board is working on attracting investors in health-care in specialty areas including cardiology and organ transplants
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