WLG advises the Government of Rwanda and TradeMark East Africa on the development of the Kigali Logistics Platform

22 January 2016

Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co (WLG), in association with Deloitte (financial advisers), K-Advocates (local legal advisers) and Gauff (technical advisers), have advised the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) on the signing of a concession agreement with DP World, to design, build, finance, operate and maintain an integrated logistics facility in Kigali, Rwanda. The project is one of the first competitively tendered PPPs to close in Rwanda and the first logistics PPP of its type in Africa where the traffic risk is being borne by the concessionaire.

TMEA is an East African not for profit company established in 2010 to support the growth of trade - both domestic and international - in East Africa. The Kigali Logistics Platform public private partnership (PPP) project is one of several transport PPPs being supported by TMEA across the region, and the first to reach close. The success of the transaction benefited from TMEA's unique model of both funding the transaction advisers for the Project and providing direct technical support to the government sponsor MINICOM. It will hopefully be a blueprint for similar projects across the EAC.

The logistics facility, operating as an inland port, will act as a hub for Rwanda's import and export activity and domestic distribution. It will increase the country's ability to run efficient trade routes from and into Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi and central Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). DP World has been awarded a twenty-five year concession to construct and then operate the facility, which will link with Rwanda's existing road trade corridors, and potential future rail development.

WLG's team was by led by partner Jonathan Brufal, head of the firm's Africa Group, and senior associate Tom Gray. They worked closely with Julius Kayonga, senior partner of K-Advocates in Rwanda, WLG's associate law firm in the region. The team was supported by Michael Whitehouse (consultant) and James Bruce (principal associate in construction and engineering).

WLG initially advised MINICOM on the implementation of Rwanda's Logistics and Distribution Services Strategy. As part of this advice, a feasibility study of developing the Kigali Logistics Platform on a PPP basis, including a full review of the legislative and regulatory landscape in the country and reviewing and commenting on its upcoming PPP Law, was conducted. Upon completion of this study, WLG advised MINICOM on the structuring and procurement of three distinct projects, of which the Kigali Logistics Platform is the first to close.

The team drafted all procurement and project documentation for the projects, including the Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals, a bespoke concession agreement and all other project agreements. WLG also supported the evaluation, bidder clarification and document amendment processes, working not just with MINICOM, but also with the Rwanda Development Board and Ministries of Finance, Justice and Infrastructure.

Following the successful close of the logistics platform, the advisory team will now continue to support MINICOM as it seeks to develop Bonded Warehouse facilities on the Rwanda/DRC border. Building on this transaction, the team is in a strong position to support private and public sector clients on the development of transport or logistics infrastructure in East Africa, as they are now familiar with the relevant East African cross-border regulation and trade routes.

Partner Jonathan Brufal said: "The project has been great to be involved with, and while not without its challenges, a very enjoyable and satisfying instruction. The Kigali Logistics Platform has the potential to bring about a step change in Rwanda's logistics sector. As a land-locked country, EXIM routes and efficient domestic distribution are key to the growth of Rwanda's economy. It's been great working with the rest of the transaction advisory team, and also getting to know the various public sector stakeholders in Rwanda. Completing this transaction is evidence that we are continuing to grow our East African practice and build our knowledge of the regional transport and logistics sectors".

George Wolf, Senior Director, TMEA said: "We are delighted that the Kigali Logistics Platform has reached commercial close, and are grateful to the WLG team for their role in that. Throughout the transaction they provided prompt and helpful advice, using knowledge gained elsewhere in Africa and in the sector to ensure MINICOM ran a procurement programme that conformed to international best practice and attracted bidders who are major players in the logistics space to Rwanda."

WLG's projects team has a track record of closing challenging projects in emerging jurisdictions, where there is little or no precedent or regulation, nor an established track record of PPPs. Examples include projects in Afghanistan, advising the Kenya Ports Authority in on the development of a new Ports Act, publicly procured coal and gas fired power stations in South Africa, and solar farms in Sierra Leone. The Africa Group is currently also advising on energy projects in Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin. Whatever your project, whatever its size or location, WLG's Africa Group has the expertise to assist.