UK Export Finance has expanded its available cover in Rwanda to £50mn, in a move to support projects in the East Africa region.

Cover was previously attributed on a case-by-case basis, but GTR learns that no deals have been guaranteed in Rwanda by the ECA in the past 10 years.

However, UKEF chief executive David Godfrey says he is “hopeful” about prospects in the country.

“Right now we have no exposure but we are hopeful and talking to companies that we know are active in the region, in Uganda or Kenya for example. We can say to them that we’re able to support them in Rwanda and Sudan as their business expands in the region,” he explains.

He mentions that UKEF has strong interest in the East Africa region, and that expanding cover in Rwanda fits within the ECA’s ambitions there.

“It’s a modest amount, but it’s more a signal than anything else, to tell UK exporters that we are open for business there.”

“We’re seeing it not as just Rwanda, but part of a broader community where there are mineral resources and infrastructure needs, so we are trying to respond to that,” he tells GTR, adding that even deals that exceed the £50mn headline number will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In particular, the ECA will look at projects that generate foreign exchange, build infrastructure and have a social purpose in the region.

According to a UKEF spokesperson, the agency has “recently supported UK-based companies with guarantees and/or insurance to export to the following countries in East Africa: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda”.

They cite UKEF’s involvement in the construction of Terminal III at Julius Nyere International Airport in Tanzania (signed in 2013), as well as guarantees provided to educational training equipment firm Eduteq, which helped it supply vocational training equipment and consultancy services to colleges and schools in Eritrea, also in 2013.