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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Rwanda delays privatising tea industry
Rwanda street scene
Rwanda's economy was devastated in 1994
Pressure from the World Bank has forced Rwanda to delay privatising its tea industry.

The decision by the central African nation comes despite predictions that a sell-off could lead to a tripling of tea production, and thereby offset a crippling trade deficit.

The deficit is largely due to the collapse in the price of coffee, traditionally the country's leading export.

Rwanda plans to move cautiously with privatization of its tea estates, beginning with Mulindi and Pfunda, the two largest, to be put on the block in the middle of the year.

They were to have been sold in January, but pressure from the World Bank has forced Rwanda to reassess its position.

Brave face

Rwanda's finance ministry said the delay gave the government time to finalise negotiations with tea growers' associations, which that are demanding a stake in the privatised entities.

The country is stepping up economic reforms following success in the sale of two-fifths of its enterprises earmarked for privatization.

Sell-offs are seen as key to reviving the economy, which was devastated by the 1994 genocide in which more than 500,000 people were murdered.

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'The delay will help potential investors.'
The BBC's Alex Ritson
See also:

18 Dec 01 | Business
Rwanda to privatise tea plantations
09 Apr 02 | Health
Tea 'could help prevent cancer'
03 Apr 02 | Business
Pakistan tea traders seek duty cut
28 Mar 02 | Business
India hopes to revive the cuppa
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