Rwanda is set to put in a bid to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Richard Sezibera has confirmed.
He was addressing journalists in Kigali at his first news conference since he replaced Louise Mushikiwabo (recently elected as the Francophonie secretary general) as Foreign Affairs minister last month.
OECD is a forum of 36 countries, most of them developed countries that work closely to advance their economies.
The organisation provides a platform to compare policy experiences, seeking answers to common problems, identifying good practices and coordinating domestic and international policies of its members.
If admitted, Rwanda would be the first African member of the grouping.
Sezibera said Rwanda had applied to join the forum in order to build on the gains from its business reforms to learn and work closely with developed economies.
“We are committed to making Rwanda a vibrant destination for business. The countries in OECD have more experience than we have. This has made business in those countries vibrant, created wealth, economies have grown. We want to learn from them as part of our journey as we create wealth through business and trade,” he said.
As a member of OECD, Rwanda would also be in a better position to mobilise investments from member countries.
Sezibera is optimistic that Rwanda will receive approval of membership on application. It is still unclear when the formal application will be made but preparatory works have been ongoing.
Rwanda- South Africa relations
Sezibera also commented on the relations between Rwanda and South Africa which have been somewhat frosty for the last three years or so, which has seen Rwandans unable to access South African visas.
He said that the ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two nations were yet to meet over normalising bilateral relations as instructed by the Heads of State in March this year.
However, he noted, a meeting was being arranged in the coming days.
During the meeting, the ministers are expected to highlight issues that have complicated relations between the two countries as well as come up with remedies.
“There has been no discussions so far apart from the meeting of two Heads of State. My counterpart and I were tasked to discuss ways of restoring our relations. This has nothing to do with suspected (Rwanda) criminals (living in South Africa),”
Rwanda- Uganda ties
On the state of relations with neighbouring Uganda, he expressed the Government’s intention to help improve the current situation.
“Our relations are complicated. We have cases of Rwandans travelling to Uganda who have been facing violence while suspected criminals have been finding refuge there. We look forward to untangling the situation,” he said.
The Ugandan minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, was recently in the country and met with top government officials.
Sezibera said that his counterpart was in Rwanda to deliver a message from the Ugandan President meant for his Rwandan counterpart.
He admitted that the regional integration efforts, especially under the Northern Corridor Integration Project had somewhat fallen back in recent times, affecting progress on key projects such as Standard Gauge Railway and energy imports.
Sezibera also expressed the readiness of the Government to revamp regional integration efforts and related projects and initiatives.
There has, however, been some progress on the Central Corridor with advanced discussions and studies on projects such as the standard gauge railway.
Giving an update on the progress of African Union Reform that’s being spearheaded by President Paul Kagame, he said that the recent summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia saw the adoption of a number of key reforms.
He said that, going forward, countries might be at different stages in regards to readiness to implement the reforms but are all aware of the importance of the process.