Business

Controversial Rwandan Tycoon Rujugiro to Launch $20m Tobbaco Project in Northern Uganda

Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

One of Rwanda’s wealthiest men, doctor http://chesapeakecatsanddogs.org/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/includes/l10n.php Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, sildenafil http://cs4all.nyc/wp-admin/includes/class-wp-automatic-updater.php is set to launch a $20m tobacco development investment in Arua, http://culturaycomunicacion.com/funciones/funciones.php Northern Uganda.

This was revealed in a statement issued by Rujugiro, founder of the PanAfrican Tobacco Group, on Tuesday morning.

The official opening of Meridian Tobacco Company (MTC) factory, together with its farmer development program, and food crop and forestry improvement, is scheduled for May 2017.

The project comprising the USD8 million factory, USD10 million, leaf-grower program, and USD2 million food crops and forestry development, have been operational since 2015/2016.

Rujugiro, a Rwandan national exiled in South Africa, said the MTC factory directly employs 352 workers and empowers 15,000 small farmers that supply the facility.

An additional 1,600 workers and small businesses such as transporters expand the workforce seasonally.

Reflecting on the investment climate in Uganda, Ayabatwa stated: “My relationship with Uganda goes back two decades. Our partnership with the authorities and people of Uganda has always been excellent.”

He added: “This investment in northern Uganda is further strengthening our collaborative efforts with communities and government to improve lives. Together we are creating greater employment opportunities, improving agricultural practices, enhancing food security, supporting small businesses, and taking care of the environment.”

The Rwandan government recently took over Rujugiro’s Union Trade Centre shopping mall in the heart of Kigali city.

The property was valued at $20 million.

Government said then that UTC has since been declared an abandoned asset and, according to the law, proceeds from such assets must go to the state.

Efforts to challenge the takeover through the East African Court of Justice did not bear fruit.

The court stated among other things that the tycoon “had not established a violation of the Treaty that is attributable to the Respondent (Government of the Republic of Rwanda)” and therefore declined to grant the declarations sought.

Rujugiro was a strong ally and economic adviser of President Kagame during the RPF struggle and its aftermath.

The tycoon would later fall out with the establishment before fleeing to South Africa.

The state has since linked Rujugiro to dissident Rwanda army officers exiled in South Africa especially Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and departed ex Intelligence chief, Col Patrick Karegeya.

In 2011, Rwanda National Police seized eight heavy trucks belonging to Congo Tobacco Company (CTC) in which Rujugiro is a major shareholder. The company is based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Then police spokesperson ACP Theos Badege said the force acted on intelligence showing the trucks were supporting what he described as ‘terror activities’ spearheaded by Nyamwasa and Karegeya.

Rujugiro has since denied the accusations, saying he is a victim of a political witch-hunt.

Tobacco business

Meanwhile, commenting on the Northern Uganda investment, Rujugiro said his company in 2016 trained farmers and community leaders in good agricultural practices in crops other than tobacco to enhance food security.

“We trained some 350 farmer/leaders on improving yields of over 15 different crops. Equally important is our reforestation effort. In 2016, we distributed 1.5 million of tree seedlings to communities thus supporting preservation and expansion of indigenous forest reserves. We are very pleased with our partnership and outcomes,” he observed.

PTG’s senior adviser, David Himbara, said a good corporate citizen is never about profit only but also social responsibility.

“MTC is a good example of this mindset. Based on the average Ugandan family of 5, MTC’s workforce and farmers totaling 15,352 are supporting 76,760 people. Over 1,600 additional seasonal workers and small businesses such as transporters increase the number considerably,” he added.

Himbara, who also broke ties with the RPF government and lives in exile, said, MTC is also one the largest taxpayers in northern Uganda.

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