Rwanda and Eni, an Italian energy company, have signed four cooperation agreements to develop innovative joint initiatives in agriculture, protection of unique forest ecosystems, technology and health. The four agreements were signed with Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Health Ministry, National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA), and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation on November 24. The agreement in agriculture sector will see the launch of a pilot project to produce varieties of seeds for oil crops and the use of drones for soil analysis and crop monitoring. The project, which represents the first ‘open-air laboratory’ on the African continent, according to officials, will use the most advanced precision farming techniques to produce quality seeds in Rwanda. This is considered an important sector of the country since it employs more than 60 per cent of the workforce and contributes 25 percent of GDP. The country continues to seek investment towards boosting this sector’s productivity that drives the economy. On the other hand, the agreement signed with RDB and a non-profit tech start-up called Rainforest Connection, aims to protect forests and generate carbon credits through the use of cutting-edge technologies in areas with high levels of biodiversity, autonomous drones and acoustic sensors. By using artificial intelligence algorithms, the project experiment will enable the detection of potential threats and respond to alarms with immediately targeted interventions. In ICT and innovation, the country will cooperate with the company in supporting initiatives in areas of common interest, from precision agriculture to forest monitoring and health by disseminating technologies and creating synergies with the country’s start-ups. Meanwhile, a three-year agreement was also signed in the health sector to strengthen basic maternal and child health services, with a focus on the management of obstetric emergencies, in four districts of the country. These include Gisagara, Musanze, Nyagatare and Rulindo District, with a target population of 1.5 million people. The intended beneficiaries are mothers and children, vulnerable groups and health personnel. The initiative includes the construction of maternity wards and a capacity-building and training programme for communities and health personnel. Commenting on the cooperation, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board (BRD), said the signing of these agreements in various sectors is a testimony of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors collaborate to achieve sustainable goals. “The agreements align with Rwanda’s target to be a hub for innovation, and we are glad that ENI is committed to being a partner in this journey.” Luigi Ciarrocchi, CCUS, Forestry and Agri-Feedstock Director at Eni said: “We will work jointly to develop concrete projects for the country’s decarbonisation, leveraging on a business environment that is ideal to test innovative solutions and agribusiness activities generating high-added value.” These agreements come seven months after the signing Memorandum of Understanding signed between Rwanda and the company in the circular economy and decarbonisation value chain. The two parties set off to evaluate the feasibility of circular economy projects focused on collecting used cooking oil and waste oils, waste management valorisation, and recycling.