The presidents of Rwanda and Tanzania have pledged to strengthen the two countries’ relations to enable their citizens to work together for shared benefits and development.
The leaders made the commitment yesterday at the two countries’ border at Rusumo, where Rwandan President Paul Kagame welcomed his Tanzanian counterpart, John Pombe Magufuli, for a two-day working visit.
At the border, the two leaders inaugurated the newly-constructed Rusumo International Bridge and a one-stop border post between Rwanda and Tanzania, which brings customs and immigration officers from both countries under one roof.
The leaders urged Rwandans and Tanzanians to actively use the border for their business and visits to each other, encouraging them to build stronger relationships that are crucial for mutual interests.
“We want trade to increase because that will be to the benefit of both the people of Rwanda and the people of Tanzania,” President Kagame said, adding that cooperation based on peace has potential to transform the two nations.
Speaking to both Rwandan and Tanzanian citizens and dignitaries gathered on the Rwandan side of the Rusumo border, President Magufuli pledged stronger cooperation:
“Tanzania will cooperate very well with Rwanda. I would like to ask businesspeople in both countries of Rwanda and Tanzania and citizens from the entire EAC (East African Community) to work together and build our unity. I trust that we can build our countries’ economies by working together,” Magufuli said in a short speech.
He thanked President Kagame for inviting him to visit Rwanda and described him as both a friend and brother, while also emphasising that Tanzania is and will remain a friend of Rwanda.
“I normally don’t like to travel because I am busy at work and I want to save on resources. I have been invited to go to many places, including Europe and I haven’t been able to make it. But when President Kagame invited me, I had to come.” Magufuli said.
The Tanzanian president is on a two day visit to Rwanda, during which he will also join the country in the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which starts today.
Magufuli emphasised yesterday that as a continent with the most resources, African countries should work together to develop themselves.
President Kagame thanked his Tanzanian counterpart for visiting Rwanda and welcomed him to feel at home during his stay.
He also encouraged Rwandans and their Tanzanian friends to visit each other more often and increase the current 2000 people who cross the Rusumo border every day to many more thousands.
“We need friendship, we need brotherhood, and we need to do business together for mutual interests,” Kagame said.
The launched Rusumo International Bridge and one stop border post between Rwanda and Tanzania were built with the financial support from the Government of Japan and the African Development Bank.
The border post links Rwanda to Tanzania’s Dar-es-Salaam port on the Indian Ocean where up to 60 per cent of Rwanda’s cargo goes through.