Banks have left us between a rock and a hard place

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Banks are going to be the death of us

Normally I would be the last person to get into a debate about money and banking with the governor of the central bank, and former finance minister, John Rwangombwa. I mean, he has the keys to the national treasury and I have the keys to….. nothing really.

However, the one thing that I do have a bit of experience in is asking for a bank loan. So, when in an interview that was published on Monday, Rwangombwa commented on the issue of the high commercial bank interest rates, I held my breath and waited for some good news.

Sadly, none was forthcoming.

Instead of bringing the hammer down and showing the greedy bankers who was boss, he put the onus on us, the bank clients, to change the situation. Think I’m lying? This is what he said.

“The borrowers at times lack enough information to engage the banking institutions when they go out to borrow. When someone enters the bank and gets a loan, at times they think they are lucky to get that loan, instead they should have information to be able to engage the bankers on the rates at which they access the loans. It will further be easier because the Credit Rating Bureau is doing credit rating of different borrowers that will arm borrowers to engage banks”.

Now, I will not presume to know other people’s affairs; however, I know mine. I know my banking history. I’ve been a Bank of Kigali (BK) client for almost a decade. I’ve requested and received a few of loans (and paid them all back). I have been issued BK Visa credit card and I’ve never defaulted or missed a payment. My credit rating is extremely good.

So, in the world that the Governor lives in a person like me should be able to get a mortgage, business or personal loan at below the normal 18%. However, the truth of the matter is, that simply isn’t true.

What I CAN get is a faster loan approval process but forget about a cheaper loan. That simply isn’t happening. And Rwangombwa asking us to demand a lower rate is simply unfair because the cards are stacked against us.

It is simply a matter of supply and demand. There are more people (demand) asking for money than the banks are able to finance (supply). Therefore, bankers can do anything they want really, within some sort of reason, and we are powerless to stop them. Pretending otherwise is an exercise in futility.

Mr. Rwangombwa, please stop peddling false hope.

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Mr. Rwangombwa, Why you lying? Why you always lying?

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Ghana is jumping on the Pan-African wagon. Finally

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Accra, Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first head of state and Pan-Africanist, is probably smiling down following his nation’s decision to remove visa restrictions on Rwandans entering the country. This following Rwanda’s decision a while ago to allow all African passport holders to get visas on arrival.

I believe that travel not only allows us to receive new experiences, it also gives us the chance to celebrate our shared humanity. As Africa develops, this sense of shared humanity will allow us to tap into each others strengths and capabilities thereby allowing us to see each other not as the ‘other’ to be feared and treated suspiciously but rather as friends and allies.

We, as Africans, cannot get where we want to go alone, no matter the amount of natural resources under our soils. We are much stronger as a collective. And easing visa restrictions is a small step in the right direction of closer African economic, social and political ties.

I wonder who is next? Angola? Mozambique? Nigeria?…………………………………………………………………………………..

 Things are getting much worse in Syria and I don’t think they’ll get better

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Turkish television showed images of what it reports is the Russian jet being shot 

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish artillery while on a bombing mission in Syria. According to the Kremlin, the aircraft did not violate Turkish airspace. Something that I’m sure the Turks will vehemently disagree with.

Honestly though, it doesn’t matter who is at fault here. The issue is that there are too many powerful players, with different agendas, making moves in a region that is already as dry as a tinderbox. Students of history will tell you that geo-political conflict is usually just a few steps away and as an amateur historian I feel that what is happening in Syria and northern Iraq is a disaster waiting to happen. Especially with the French and Russians on the warpath.

I can only hope that cool heads reign. But I don’t really see that happening.

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