Citadel’s RVR Reopens Key Trade Route Between Kenya, North Uganda

Citadel Capital’s Rift Valley Railways (RVR) re-launches Uganda’s Tororo-Gulu-Packwach rail line at a ceremony attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni; new line will facilitate intra-regional trade by providing easier access to East African Markets and boost the economic development of Northern Uganda.

Citadel Capital’s Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the operator of the Kenya-Uganda railway, has completed the first phase of the rehabilitation of 500 kilometers of track that links Kenya with Tororo in Eastern Uganda and Gulu in the north, ending two decades of disuse and inefficiency. The re-launched Tororo-Gulu-Pakwach line is providing businesses targeting East African markets with a faster and more-cost effective way of moving cargo by rail — as well as opening up north and northwest Uganda to rail services.

The official re-launch of the Tororo-Gulu line took place at an event in Gulu attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Citadel Capital Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal, as well TransCentury Director Ngugi Kiuna and BOMI Holdings Chairman Charles Mbire. Local government officials and key executives from Citadel Capital and RVR were also in attendance.

“Rift Valley Railways is the investment that first brought Citadel Capital to East Africa, a region many of us at the firm now view as our second home on this great continent that we share. Intra-regional trade currently accounts for just 9% of Africa’s total commerce, and we believe this new line is an important milestone that will further complement ongoing Ugandan government initiatives aimed at facilitating trade on the continent,” said Heikal.

“We are extremely proud to be associated with the historic reopening of the Tororo-Gulu line, which will help ensure a dependable and well-functioning railway that can spur growth and regional economic integration throughout East Africa,” he continued.

RVR is a portfolio company of Citadel Capital (CCAP.CA), the leading investment company in Africa and the Middle East with investments of US$ 9.5 billion in five core industries including energy, transportation, agrifoods, mining and cement. As a large-scale, long-term investor in Africa’s infrastructure, Citadel Capital matches regional opportunities with the international capital and expertise needed to grow African economies.

“RVR is an excellent example of what can be achieved in Uganda and the continent in the future. It is truly a global financing effort — with shareholders like Bomi in Uganda, our partners Transcentury in Kenya, and Citadel Capital from Egypt. Indeed, we at Citadel Capital are ourselves financed by OPIC — the US government arm to finance the private sector — by sovereign and quasi sovereign wealth funds from the UAE and Norway, in addition to the IFC, and the German, French and Dutch governments,” said Heikal.

RVR’s lenders also include the African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), KfW Entwicklungsbank (The German Development Bank, KfW), FMO (the Dutch development bank), Kenya’s Equity Bank, the ICF Debt Pool, and the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO).

Africa Railways, Citadel Capital’s platform for investment in the African rail transport sector, counts among its equity investors the IFC African, Latin American and Caribbean Fund LP (ALAC, the private equity fund managed by the IFC Asset Management Company LLC); FMO; German development finance institution DEG; FISEA, a vehicle dedicated to investment in Sub-Saharan Africa owned by France’s Agence Française de Développement and managed by its subsidiary PROPARCO; and the International Finance Corporation.

The rail operator’s technical partners are global experts from America Latina Logistica in Brazil, Heikal noted.

“The Tororo-Gulu-Packwach rehabilitation, which was fully funded by RVR, will allow us to provide more efficient cargo transport to customers along routes in East Africa, and avoid long trips by roads,” said RVR Group Chief Executive Officer, Darlan de David.

De David noted that RVR will be expanding its presence in Gulu and eventually transforming the town into a logistical hub for its operations in northern Uganda and the surrounding regions.

Commenting on the significance of the new route, Citadel Capital Managing Director Karim Sadek noted, “This new service will play a vital role in promoting regional integration and trade by providing access to areas that were once closed to rail transportation. Working with logistics partners and our own logistics subsidiary, East Africa Rail and Handling, we will provide end-to-end transport and delivery solutions for customers in this important part of East Africa.”