Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Rwanda (right) and Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé in handshake after the signing ceremony at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg (Pic supplied: AIF)

JOHANNESBURG - Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, on Friday signed an agreement with the Republic of Rwanda to develop and finance a “Digital Innovation Precinct”, including commercial and retail complexes, as part of Kigali Innovation City (KIC).

The announcement was made at a signing ceremony organised by Africa50 during the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

Under the terms of the agreement, Africa50 was appointed co-sponsor and partner of the project and will apply its project development, financial structuring, and infrastructure development expertise, working alongside the Rwanda Development Board and other partners during the development phase.

Africa50 will also help select additional partners, including other development finance institutions and private sector lenders, for the construction.

KIC is a flagship project that will house international universities, technology companies, biotech firms, and commercial and retail real estate in an area of 70 hectares and whose final value could approach US $2 billion. 

The project aims to attract technology companies from all over the world to Rwanda to create an innovation ecosystem and further a knowledge-based economy. It is expected to create more than 50,000 jobs and generate US $150 million in ICT exports annually, as well as attracting over US $300 million in foreign direct investment.

Edouard Ngirente, prime minister of Rwanda, said the Kigali Innovation City will be an Africa-focused innovation hub and a holistic ecosystem of technology clusters.

"This innovative effort is the first of its kind in the continent. It will have Pan-African development impact both in terms of economic and human capital. A considerable amount of work has been done in collaboration with the Rwanda Development Board, Africa50 and other partners. The full success of this project requires concerted efforts to mobilise more private investors," Ngirente said.

Alain Ebobisse, chief executive of Africa50, said the project has a significant socio-economic impact and aligns well with their vision of promoting innovation and ICT development in Africa.

"KIC is an example of how we can partner with one of our shareholder governments to provide project development expertise leveraging their outstanding track record in doing business to mobilise capital for a farsighted, innovative project of global reach," Ebobisse said.

- African News Agency (ANA)