City of Kigali, Japan's Kobe forge special partnership

The City of Kigali and Kobe, the sixth-largest city in Japan, are set to work out a fundamental partnership after a high-level delegation arrived in Kigali over the weekend.

The City of Kigali and Kobe, the sixth-largest city in Japan, are set to work out a fundamental partnership after a high-level delegation arrived in Kigali over the weekend.

A 20-man delegation led by Kizo Hisamoto, the mayor of the city of Kobe, toured Kigali on Sunday and continued with more visits and discussions at City Hall on Monday.

Earlier, Martin Sibomana, the City of Kigali Media and Communications Officer, confirmed that the Mayor of Kobe and Mayor of Kigali will “hold discussions to initiate relations and explore twinning possibilities which would make Kigali the first African sister city to Kobe city.”

Sibomana said: “Kobe wants to promote people- to-people relations with Rwanda through relations with City of Kigali which will be explored during this visit, with the possibility of creating formalised relations through twinning.”

During the Kobe delegation’s week-long visit, a memorandum of understanding – which is still being drafted – will be signed by both parties to cement their special relationship.

“It’s about twinning. The city of Kobe is already partnering with some Rwandan institutions, including the ICT Chamber and, a number of Rwandan students are benefiting from masters’ degree scholarships in Kobe,” Sibomana said.

Robert Ford, the vice president of the ICT chamber of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), told The New Times that the ICT chamber developed a very strong relationship with the government of Japan, since 2012 when local ICT companies got interested in partnerships with Japanese counterparts.

In 2013, a MoU was penned by the Kobe Institute of Computing (KIC), a prominent private Graduate School of Information Technology, and the ICT Chamber.

Ford said: “In Japan, a lot of work is being outsourced. The Rwandan ICT chamber got interested. Local companies, such as WiredIn got interested. WiredIn is doing outsourcing jobs or writing computer code, for Japanese companies.”

The ICT Chamber, he said, targets producing at least 1,000 software developers who would be doing software development for companies in Japan.

Ford says the ICT chamber has a special relationship with the city of Kobe as a result of the KIC which currently has 13 Rwandan students shored up by the African Business Education Initiative for Youth, or ABE initiative.

Launched during the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V), in June 2013, the ABE initiative, offers opportunities for young and eligible Africans to study Master’s courses in Japanese universities and to experience internships at Japanese enterprises in order to develop effective skills and knowledge in various fields for contributing to the development of industries back home.

Ford said the Japanese delegation visit will culminate into a declaration of cooperation between the two cities.

The two cities will cooperate in areas such as biochemistry, urbanisation, sewage management, smart cities.

“The Mayor of Kobe is heading a delegation of business companies looking to forge new partnerships with Rwandan companies.”

Kobe, with a population of nearly 1.5 million people, is today a $70 billion economy and it continues to grow. But in January 1995, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Kobe killing about 6,434 people, making 212,443 more homeless, and destroying large parts of the port facilities and other parts of the city.