Jonathan Nzayikorera, the newly appointed Executive Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB) representing Eastern Africa constituency, has urged Rwanda’s private sector to explore financing opportunities under the bank.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Nzayikorera shared, among other things, his priorities after his appointment on May 26, during the 57th AfDB’s Annual Meetings in Accra, Ghana.
Having formerly worked as a Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the Eastern Africa constituency, he now sits on the board that makes decisions on policies and strategies for financing operations as well as represents interests of nine countries.
They include; Rwanda, Kenya, Seychelles, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Eretria.
“There is an area for our constituency that we are not doing well, particularly in my country, the private sector. When you are at the current portfolio, the private sector represents less than five per cent,” Nzayikorera noted.
With Rwanda’s vision to have a private-sector-led economy, he said there is a contradiction, hence, his first priority is to harness more engagement between the bank and the private sector.
He added that he will also be focusing on more advocacy for other innovative ways of financing in regards to impact brought about by Covid-19 that hampered the finance standing of countries and the bank itself.
“With PPP (Private Public Partnership) arrangement, it is an area the bank can do well by supporting countries… it can complement other initiatives through upraising projects together, and identifying business together,” he said.
Nzayikorera added that there are other opportunities available at AfDB beyond the financing that can benefit countries such as knowledge support, “in most of our countries we lack capacity in different sectors.”
He emphasized that people need to be aware of the bank, its function, and different interventions in various countries because “people have to know that this is their bank”, as it’s the taxpayer’s money involved.
In Rwanda, he said, there are about $1.2 billion worth of active projects financed by the AfDB, however, more can be done with the private sector.
The bank is partnering with the government in areas such as roads, energy and water sectors.
Nnenna Lily Nwabufo, Director General, East Africa Region, said there are various factors that may hinder the private sector to access credit from the bank in consideration of foreign exchange risks, project risk assessment, among others.
However, she reiterated the need for improved economic activities of the private sector which is interconnected with the development of the country as a whole in such a way that if the people do not pay more taxes, the government will not be able to derive revenues required to provide services to citizens and service their loans.