RWANDA has a reputation for enterprise. Its government has largely stamped out small-scale corruption and trimmed regulations, making the country the second-best place in Africa to do business, according to the World Bank’s widely-followed ranking. But the dominant political party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), does more than help business: it runs its very own conglomerate.
Crystal Ventures, the RPF’s holding company, has investments in everything from furniture to finance. It owns the country’s biggest milk processor, its finest coffee shops and some of its priciest real estate. Its contractors are building Kigali’s roads. There are several firms offering security services in Rwanda but the guards from ISCO, part of Crystal Ventures, are the only ones who tote guns. The company is reckoned to have some $500m of assets.
Its expansion is aided by the fact that its chief rival is Horizon, a similar group that is accountable to the ministry of defence, with interests in construction and logistics. Critics argue that Crystal Ventures and Horizon both get cushy government deals which mask the failures of their enterprises, several of…Continue reading