Rwanda ‘warming up for Commonwealth’

KAMPALA - Rwanda is already familiarising herself with Commonwealth practices although her application to join the 53-nation club is yet to be granted, a Cabinet minister has said. Vincent Karega, who is the State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion, said on Wednesday that the country was already involved in activities which are common among Commonwealth members, since its admission chances are high.
Vincent Karega, State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion
Vincent Karega, State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion

KAMPALA - Rwanda is already familiarising herself with Commonwealth practices although her application to join the 53-nation club is yet to be granted, a Cabinet minister has said. Vincent Karega, who is the State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion, said on Wednesday that the country was already involved in activities which are common among Commonwealth members, since its admission chances are high.

“We are committed to embrace changes and we are already in that process. We have already started familiarising ourselves with the Commonwealth activities,” Karega told The New Times on the sidelines of Commonwealth meetings in Kampala, Uganda.

Kampala has for some days been playing host to a series of Commonwealth meetings, which were part of the preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm), which opens today in the Ugandan capital.

Karega said Rwanda applied to join the Commonwealth group to help improve its market base, and to attract investors into its sectors especially mining, agriculture, tourism, ICT, banking, transport and infrastructure.

The minister said Rwanda is no longer a Francophone but multilingual nation after the introduction of English as an official language besides French and Kinyarwanda following the 1994 Genocide.

Besides these three languages, a big number of Rwandans also can speak Swahili, which is vastly spoken in East Africa, as well as a host of other indigenous languages of Uganda, Kenya, DRC and Tanzania.

This policy is also in line with the government’s plan to build Rwanda’s economy around its people.

Karega said Rwanda would easily export flowers, coffee, tea, ICT products and fruits and vegetables to the Commonwealth countries soon after it is granted membership.

Rwanda’s application will be determined during the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.

President Paul Kagame, who addressed the just concluded Commonwealth Business Forum in Kampala on Tuesday, is expected to be part of 53 Heads of State and Government, who will grace the three-day Chogm.

Chogm is traditionally chaired by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II who arrived in Kampala on Wednesday, also as part of her three-day official visit to the former British colony.

“In Rwanda, there is no longer a barrier of communication. Business can be transacted in a number of international languages,” Karega said.

Analysts say that Rwanda’s interests in Commonwealth membership are less obvious than those of the other applicants. 

It has had no constitutional link with an existing member, but the now East African Community nation is in many ways linked to English-speaking East African Commonwealth countries especially Uganda.

Millions of Rwandans for many years lived in exile in English-speaking countries and, the country has for the last thirteen years been seen as closer to the UK and US than to France and Belgium, which was the case before the Genocide.

Rwanda’s first colonialists were Germans before it was put under Belgium as a protectorate territory after the World War I.

ENDS

 

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