[PHOTOS & VIDEO] Fostering relations: Kagame visits Zambia
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President Paul Kagame has called on Rwandans living abroad as refugees to return back home.
The President was speaking in Lusaka, Zambia, during a meeting with his counterpart President Edgar Lungu yesterday.
Kagame, who is on a two-day state visit, said that following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, over three million Rwandans became refugees.
Noting that most had come back over the course of previous years, he welcomed back Rwandans who had fled as refugees.
Kagame also thanked the Zambian people for the hospitality extended to Rwandans who fled to the country.
“Many Rwandans live in Zambia and many have come back home. I want to thank you for the hospitality you have shown them,” he said.
“We have been a country that has produced a big number of refugees because of our tragic history and politics. Our message to our people is that we want all of them to come back. To those abroad, do not abuse the hospitality given.”
The two Heads of State witnessed the signing of three bilateral agreements; an air services agreement, a memorandum of understanding on defence and security cooperation and an extradition treaty between the two nations.
The President said the two countries already enjoy warm ties but there are multiple ways they could foster closer partnership and cooperation.
The avenues of boosting cooperation discussed include trade which he noted was still significantly low but could be increased by encouraging more interaction between citizens of the two countries.
“It is my belief that we can increase our mutual export and import. We want to increase and encourage more interactions between our two people in order to build stronger economic ties,” the President said.
Trade between the two countries has been on an upward trend with imports from Zambia growing from $2.8 million in 2015 to $11.6 million last year.
Zambia is among the top exporting countries to Rwanda, ranking 8th, which represents almost 3 per cent of total imports in 2016.
One of the means to promote interactions between the citizens of the two countries is flights by the national carrier RwandAir – seven times a week.
Commenting on the African Union reforms, Kagame said that they had taken in proposals from countries including Zambia and called for their close cooperation in the implementation process.
“For the continued unity of Africa, we must continue to speak as one voice to ensure we remain relevant at the global level,” he said.
President Lungu commended Rwanda’s development, especially in ICT, tourism, renewable energy and agriculture attributing the growth to proper planning and good governance.
He said he is keen to cooperate with and learn from Rwanda’s experience.
Lungu also lauded Kagame’s efforts in spearheading the African Union Reforms and wished him luck in the upcoming elections slated for August 4.
On the first day of his visit, President Kagame laid a wreath at the Embassy Park Presidential Memorial site, held talks with President Lungu, and paid a courtesy call on former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda before being hosted to a state dinner by his host.
Prior to his departure today, Kagame is scheduled to travel to Kafue District to tour Kafue Steel Company run by Universal Mining and Chemicals Industries Limited.