Tuesday, March 12, 2013

RPF cashing in on Crystal Ventures?

Looks to me like the Rwandan ruling coalition (the RPF) is liquidating a lot of assets.  I wonder why.

First, note that the finances of the RPF are inseparable from the finances of Crystal Ventures.  Then, check out this article detailing the RPF's sale of more than half its former 45% stake in MTN-Rwanda to the umbrella South African MTN.  RPF is poised to sell more than half of its share in Inyange Industries, the country's leading food processing company.  Some of Crystal Ventures' other investments may also be on the chopping block.

On the other side of the income statement, I can't find many new investments like this granite factory which opened mid-2012.

To further drive the point home, it seems that the RPF is calling in $9 million in debts from the Rwandan government itself.

Why is this happening? I suspect two reasons.
 - Rwanda's government is heavily dependent on foreign aid, which has comprised more than half its national budget in direct aid alone, in recent years. But, following the M23 scandal, many donor governments have shut off the spigot, including Britain,
 - In order to weather the coming storm, the RPF may be saving up a "war chest," for maintaining both political allegiances, as well as covering military contingencies.

Jennifer Cooke of the CSIS identifies two potential future narratives for Rwanda, one of rapid development, and another of spiralling political repression, resentment, and alienation of government from population.

Viewing events within this framework, the liquidation of RPF holdings and the OECD's move away from direct aid to Rwanda's government budget can be interpreted in two ways.  Pessimistically and cynically, one could say the RPF is selling its country short, selling off in-country resources to external accounts in a move of calculated capital flight in an environment of declining FDI.  More optimistically, one might say the ruling party is privatizing industries to spur growth.  As usual, both are probably true.

Update:  Now this is called raking in the cash! Hope the big push works.

"Rwanda plans to use half the proceeds from the issue to repay outstanding loans on the Kigali Convention Centre and on a development plan for the national airline, RwandAir.
The remaining funds will be used to pay for the completion of the convention centre and to finance a hydro power project."

Lack of Information about effects of Marijuana?

Article: "Study reveals Colorado family physicians' views on Medical Marijuana."
Incredible that doctors feel like they know so much more about all the other psychoactives than about marijuana, given that marijuana has such a long history of use and ab-use. Eureka!  America needs... marijuana drug reps "empowered" to take our shrinks out to five-star steak dinners to educate them!

Steak with salad on the side?

Marijuana not to "flow across state lines"

Feb 19, 2013: Colorado marijuana regulators sign off on pot tourism Link to story
"Marijuana purchased in Colorado must stay in Colorado," Pabon warned.
"We could attract greater federal scrutiny and displeasure of our neighbors," if marijuana flows across state lines, he said.
(Rep. Dan Pabon is a Denver Democrat who sits on the Colorado marijuana task force.) 
As Colorado's state lines are rather porous, I would hope that marijuana will flow across state lines.  Someone had better do a pot price study to see how much Colorado's reforms depress the black market price of weed in SLC, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Cheyenne, etc.

It could be better than many other Regression Discontinuity empirical designs, as you have the WA reform also.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Gorilla park to oilfield...

Hark all ye Westerners! If you don't prioritize human rights, then your much-adored gorillas will suffer!


Oil firms in the Congo are prospecting the Virunga National Forest. Bad idea. Too bad the regional violence prevents the local tourism industry from being a more weighty domestic stakeholder.

(Linked article is in French. Paste the link into translate.google.com)


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Radio-Trottoir: North Kivu: DRC-government fueled merry-go-round

DRC national army FARDC refusing to hold North Kivu towns and relinquishing them to rebel M23, even when M23 withdrew due to internal power struggles...

Steven Bhardwaj
[Sent from my Blackberry]