MIGA has issued a guarantee of $9.5 million to ADC IT & Payment Solutions (ADC) of Mauritius covering its equity investment in the Sociéte Monetique at de Tele-Compensation au Rwanda (SIMTEL) S.A.R.L. The coverage is for a period of up to 15 years against the risks of transfer restriction, expropriation, and war and civil disturbance.
ADC has acquired a 70 percent stake in SIMTEL, the national electronic payment transactions provider, and operator of the credit card switch and cash systems in
Rwanda. ADC’s investment includes an equity stake and materials and equipment for the project.
After the acquisition, SIMTEL is expected to transition from a subsidiary of the country’s financial institutions to an independent, for-profit company providing services on a fee basis. Established in 2002, SIMTEL has made limited progress in developing its business model of providing cost efficient and effective payment systems for its shareholders and the Rwandan public. By 2007, SIMTEL had accumulated significant losses and was in financial difficulty. As a result of SIMTEL’s difficulties, the Government of Rwanda launched a tender process to find a foreign investor who could provide the capital and expertise necessary to turn SIMTEL into a viable business. When the initial tender process did not produce a bidder able to provide the necessary operational expertise and capital, ADC was invited by the government to propose a solution to SIMTEL’s operational and financial issues.
ADC’s action plan includes increasing the number of ATMs; replacing and improving SIMTEL’s information technology hardware and software; improving service levels and functionality (i.e. accepting international VISA cards); defining a card strategy and executing the implementation of using national ID cards as credit/debit cards.
Fostering broad-based growth in economic activity and in the private sector is important for Rwanda’s continuing economic recovery. There is an estimated potential for 5 million credit cardholders in the country. SIMTEL’s plan to bring a large segment of the population into the formal economy is expected to have a positive impact on the economy.
Other expected benefits include availability of more funds for lending in the banking system through the absorption of a large portion of the cash circulating outside of the banking sector; substantial savings on cash note printing; higher security on transactions and less counterfeit money in circulation; increasing the taxable base; and availability of reliable data and reduction of asymmetric information on trade.
As the use of cash is minimized, tax evasion is also expected to decrease. Value Added Tax (VAT) will be collected directly and more efficiently as a result of the project—a significant benefit to the government.
MIGA’s participation in this project is aligned with its strategic priorities. The guarantee supports a project in an IDA-eligible (among the world’s poorest) African country and a South-South investment. It was underwritten through the agency’s Small Investment Program.