Stockmarket defies Covid-19 pandemic to remain resilient

Thursday January 07 2021

Trading on the floor of the Rwanda Stock Exchange. Photo: File


A vibrant bond market has carried Rwanda’s stock market through the turbulent year as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic exposed traders to risk averse, leading to sluggish activity on the equities market.

As the pandemic raged on, disrupting markets and negatively affecting the economy, appetite for more risk-free instruments like treasury bonds spiked, as equities stagnated for the biggest part of the year.

“The equities markets have not been very popular of recent, investors are still looking at where Covid-19 is headed.

“In our market we have seen treasury bonds issued all the time, and we have a few more other products coming, the appetite on that side, but for equities it has not been that much,” said Celestin Rwabukumba, chief executive of Rwanda Securities Exchange (RSE).

From the time Covid-19 case was registered in the country in March, the Rwanda stock market showed resilience at a time when other regional markets were crumbling against the weight of the pandemic.

The market remained stable, doubling in traded volumes at Rwf8.646 billion between January 3 and March 18, compared with Rwf4.031 billion recorded in the same time in 2019, according to data from RSE.


Although with subdued activity at first especially on the equities market the market continued its defiance, but even the lethargic equities market gained momentum, buoyed by the listing of a record three companies on the stock market in 2020.

Companies that were listed on RSE this year were South Africa’s RH Bophelo, I&M and Rwanda’s oldest cement maker CIMERWA plc, which increased activity on the bourse.

“The listing of the three companies was a big positive for the market this year, it led to growth in market turnover and increased activity in the markets” said Muneza Olivier, a stockbroker and chief executive of MO capital.

He said the fact that the companies that listed this year were products from diversified sectors added more value to the market.

To date, CIMERWA Plc, which floated its shares at Rwf120 per share on the local bourse in August, has so far traded 205,000 shares despite the pandemic biting.

The shares were largely brought and sold by local retail investors and private companies expressing interest in bids.