Rwanda and India have signed seven bilateral pacts to further boost existing cooperation.
President Paul Kagame and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the signing of the agreements at Village Urugwiro yesterday evening.
Modi is in the country on a two-day state visit which began yesterday.
He was received by his host, President Kagame.
The two leaders termed the visit and agreements as milestones in the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Rwanda and India.
Agreements signed include cooperation in defence, trade cooperation framework and a culture exchange programme (2018-2022).
Officials from the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining cooperation in agriculture and animal resources cooperation and cooperation in leather and allied industries.
India Exim Bank also committed a $200m credit line which is expected to go into development of special economic zones and three agriculture schemes.
Addressing journalists at a joint news conference after the agreements signing, President Kagame said that the pacts will enable focus on collaboration in priority areas.
“Our two countries share similar ambitions for the prosperity and well-being of our citizens, and we appreciate India’s support to Rwanda’s development agenda. The agreements signed today will serve to further focus collaboration on priority areas,” he said.
He also welcomed the move by India to open an embassy in Rwanda.
On India’s partnership with Africa, Kagame, who is also the current African Union Chairperson, said that the ongoing process to operationalise the African Continental Free Trade Area will avail opportunities for investment and trade between the African continent and India
“The African Continental Free Trade Area, Mr Prime Minister, will provide even greater opportunities for investment and trade between Africa and India in the years ahead,” Kagame told Modi.
Modi will today contribute to the Girinka programme where he will give 200 cows to families in Rweru model village in Bugesera District, Eastern Province
Prime Minister Modi said India is keen on improving cooperation with Rwanda for mutual social economic benefit.
He expressed his country’s readiness to share experiences, capacities and expertise in aspects such as training, technology, infrastructure development, financial management, rural development and the ICT sector.
He added that India was eager to learn from Rwanda on best practices in rural development and agriculture where the country has made some headways.
“We will also seek to expand our partnership in manufacturing, tourism, industrial sectors as well as trade and investments,” he said.
The two leaders are on Tuesday morning set to meet the business community of the two countries at a business summit.
The summit is scheduled to, among other things, receive suggestions from members of the private sector on ways to increase trade and investment between Rwanda and India.
Modi is accompanied by about 100 members of India’s private sector from various fields who are here to explore opportunities for trade and economic partnership.
Modi also floated an idea that the two countries ought to take advantage of digital developments by establishing an online learning platform benefiting the youth of the two countries.
He said that a task force will be set up in the coming days to work out a roadmap of the partnership.
This is the first state visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda. It follows President Kagame’s recent trips to India.
In March this year, Kagame attended the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Founding Summit in New Delhi.
Prior to that, he had also taken part in the 8th Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017.
Today, the Indian premier is also expected to pay respects to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
The two nations established diplomatic relations in 1999 with the cooperation growing steadily over the years.
Investment projects from India increased from 66 last year to 91 this year with a special focus on ICT, manufacturing and agro-processing.
The national carrier, RwandAir, operates four flights weekly to Mumbai.
Rwanda and India are among the top troop contributors to the United Nations peacekeeping missions.