Monday, May 11, 2009
Banro Foundation and the Luhwindja Community Celebrate Handover of New High School and Potable Water System
Toronto, Canada - May 11, 2009 - Banro Corporation ("Banro" or the "Company") (NYSE AMEX - "BAA"; TSX - "BAA") is pleased to report that the Banro Foundation, a registered charity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the "DRC"), has officially handed over to the community of Luhwindja in South Kivu province of the DRC the new Naluhwindja Institute secondary school and a potable water system. Both projects were financed and built by the Banro Foundation using local contractors and labour. Luhwindja is located near Banro's wholly-owned Twangiza gold project.
The Naluhwindja Institute, the first high school to be built in the region, will serve over 150 students. The potable water system, which was built in a cooperative venture with a local NGO, provides fresh, clean water to 18,000 people in four villages.
The handover of the two projects, which took place at an official ceremony in Luhwindja on Friday, May 8, 2009, was attended by over 2,000 local villagers and school children. Among the Congolese dignitaries in attendance were the Honourable Celestin Mbuya, DRC Minister of the Interior and Security, the Honourable Louis Leonce Muderwa, Governor of South Kivu province, Jean Claude Mashini, deputy director to the DRC Prime Minister's office, Emile Baleke, President of the South Kivu Provincial Assembly, Aurelie Bitondo, former South Kivu vice governor and advisor to the Prime Minister, Yav Tshibal, Vice Governor of Katanga province, Colette Makila, South Kivu Minister of Mines, and Esperance Baharanyi, Mwamikazi (mother of the tribal chief) and Member of the South Kivu Assembly for Luhwindja.
Also attending were local federal and provincial Members of Parliament and over 15 tribal chiefs. A large delegation of Banro employees was led by Company President and CEO Mike Prinsloo.
In his speech to the Ceremony, the Honourable Celestin Mbuya, Minister of the Interior and Security, said: "I am here on behalf of the President and the Prime Minister who have given me the mandate to represent them in Twangiza. I thank Banro for these projects that are crucial for the life of the community and that are in line with the five national reconstruction policies known as 'Les cinq chantiers du chef de l'etat'. I ask Banro to get involved in this process by supporting more infrastructure projects."
The Honourable Louis Leonce Muderwa, Governor of South Kivu, said in his speech: "Education and water are two essential elements in every human being's existence. By investing in projects that meet these two needs, Banro is showing its commitment to contribute to the well being of the community. I ask the people of Luhwindja to use wisdom in their relationship with the company and to maintain these two projects and thus stimulate Banro to support more initiatives in the future."
Mwamikazi and Member of the Provincial Assembly Esperance Baharanyi said in her speech: "This day marks the beginning of a new era and relationship for a community that has seldom benefited from development initiatives either through colonization, the presence of multiple NGOs in the region, government programs or former mining companies that operated in Twangiza without a plan to improve livelihoods. I call on the community to support Banro, whose work is bringing value to mineral resources that are a gift from God, but from which we have never benefited."
Speaking on behalf of Banro Corporation, President and CEO Mike Prinsloo called on the people of the region to work together with the Company to ensure that the benefits of mineral development flow through to the community in the form of new jobs and business opportunities, improved education, training, health care and social infrastructure development.
The Banro Foundation is a registered charity based in Bukavu, DRC and funded by the Company with a mandate to improve the lives of thousands of people living in South Kivu and Maniema provinces through strategic investments in education, health and infrastructure development and to provide humanitarian assistance as needed. Among the principles guiding the work of the Banro Foundation is a focus on needs identified by local community leaders, with priority given to projects that benefit communities as a whole. Where possible, the Foundation employs local labour in its initiatives.
Photographs of the Ceremony will soon be available on the Banro website at www.banro.com.
More information about the Banro Foundation, including a comprehensive list of projects to date, as well as the Company's other Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, can be viewed at www.banro.com/s/CorporateResponsibility.asp or in French at www.banro.com/s/FR-Corporate-Responsibility.asp.
Banro is a Canadian-based gold exploration company focused on the development of four major, wholly-owned gold projects, each with mining licenses, along the 210 kilometre-long Twangiza-Namoya gold belt in the South Kivu and Maniema provinces of the DRC. Led by a proven management team with extensive gold and African experience, Banro's strategy is to unlock shareholder value by increasing and developing its significant gold assets in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
For further information, please visit our website at www.banro.com, or contact: Mike Prinsloo, President and C.E.O., South Africa,
Tel: +27 (0)11 958-2885; Arnold T. Kondrat, Executive Vice-President, Toronto, Ontario, or Martin Jones, Vice-President, Corporate Development, Toronto, Ontario, Tel: (416) 366-2221 or 1-800-714-7938.
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