The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) has opened a representative office in Kigali, Rwanda to grow its business in the energy, ICT, infrastructure and transport sectors.

ATI’s new office hopes to help local banks and international investors seeking opportunities in the region. As the European banking crisis deepens, local traders in both Burundi and Rwanda will require protection against political and non-payment risks, ATI says in a statement.

The ATI office in Kigali is supported by a grant from the USAID Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Programme (Compete), which works to address trade constraints while promoting opportunities for African companies to increase their trade with the US and global markets.

“Rwanda and Burundi, like other East African countries, are beginning to feel the effects of the European banking crisis. One of the groups that could benefit most from our products are the local banks who are under pressure to fill the financing gap left by the international lenders,” comments Julius Karuga, ATI’s newly-appointed resident underwriter in Rwanda.

To date, ATI has insured US$180mn-worth of transactions in Rwanda, and US$87mn in Burundi.

The Rwanda office is ATI’s fourth local office, joining Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia/Malawi. As part of its broader expansion strategy, ATI plans additional office launches in West Africa in the next two years.