Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa

A Pan-African industrialist.
He is the founder of the
Pan-African Tobacco Group, Africa’s largest indigenous

manufacturer of tobacco products.

Looking back at the past fifty-five years, I cannot say that there was a “start” and “finish line” in my learning and doing business journey. As is often stated, life itself is a continuous learning process.

In my case, I embarked on several entrepreneurial and industrial adventures in the early 1970s, including in the transportation, bakery, import-export trading and tobacco growing, processing and manufacturing sectors.

Over the last fifty years and following a series of failures and experiments, my businesses have grown into a Pan African and international family conglomerate active in such sectors as construction, energy resources, mining, farming and cattle breeding, food processing, air cargo, real estate, hotels, malls and supermarkets, etc.

As I now retire, the various businesses I created operate and serve mostly across Sub-Saharan Africa, with a footprint in the East African Community (EAC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

These various companies and operations are in Angola, Burundi, DR Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, but also beyond Africa, in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.

Wherever we have activities, we strive to be a key stakeholder in wealth-creation for host countries through agro-production, manufacturing, local sales and exports, thus earning foreign currency and job-creation. Further, we stimulate secondary African businesses and workers such as transporters, builders, workers of all sorts, farmers, as well as a multitude of various corporate or individual service providers.

The most memorable moment of my life of learning and doing business across Sub-Saharan Africa, was learning by mistakes, working with families, communities and governments in countries and regions in which I did business.   When I took the first step,  I was driven by getting out of poverty and building up something which will not only help me and my family, but also the communities around me. The teams I worked with, the communities and local authorities also greatly facilitated this journey, for which I am most thankful. This work turned me into a truly African citizen – as opposed to just the country of my birth.

To the families, communities, employees and government officials that I had the opportunity to serve, special thank you for going beyond the call of duty to make our partnerships happen and deliver! I could not have done it without you!

Facing Defamation in the Age of the Internet


Over the years my family, businesses and I have been subjected to relentless defamation and harassment from political figures and business rivals to whom we have stood up. In the internet age, even the most baseless and partial content can have far-reaching and enduring consequences.

Having endured for many years this proliferation of false information about me emanating, in large part, from Rwanda, my country of birth, and its state-controlled media, I was eventually forced to take action.

In February 2019, I instructed Legal 500, and Chambers and Partners-ranked law firm, Brett Wilson LLP, a London-based leader in defamation, online harassment, and data protection litigation. They set about upholding my reputation and information rights, including by:

Identifying prejudicial data processing

Achieving the removal and/or rectification of inaccurate or outdated information about
me and my businesses, in particular on some of the most known compliance databases

Successfully asserting defamation claims in respect of false and defamatory publications


Providing correct and counterbalancing information on our behalf

Brett Wilson LLP delivered. Our hard-earned reputation which was suffering significantly before the firm came onboard, is now restored.  I highly recommend Brett Wilson LLP’s accomplished and enthusiastic team that fought for us with results that speak for themselves.

I invite anyone interested in learning more about our work with Brett Wilson LLP and its partner, Max Campbell, who has led the efforts on our behalf, to contact them directly:

Max Campbell 
Tel: 020 7183 8950 | Email:

Time to retire

As is often said, retirement is what you make of it. One thing is for sure – I will not seat on the couch bored and wondering what to do in my retirement. There are plenty of options out there. Top of my retirement agenda is the Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa Foundation (TRA Foundation) which performs philanthropic work on my behalf in countries where I did business.

Through the TRA Foundation, I envisioned creating a foundation that focuses on helping those closest to my heart: African youth with drive and determination seeking opportunities to gain skills for improved employability.

The TRA Foundation had one main goal at the outset, namely, providing internships to African youths to give them the practical, hands-on experience they need to succeed in today’s highly competitive job markets.

It also awards scholarships to those African kids with very high IQ but without resources to continue their education.

I confess that I have another passion to occupy my retirement agenda – raising cattle. There is nothing better in life than waking up on a cattle farm and witnessing the peacefulness that comes with these occasions. Watching young calves run in the pastures of African green grass is to die for. Here comes Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, the former African businessman turned into an African cattle keeper (umushumba in our language).