The City of Kigali has signed a partnership agreement with Japanese city of Kobe to work together on ICT related issues, among other areas.
The deal was signed at a gala dinner in the Rwandan capital on Monday. The two cities already had an outstanding cooperation and the latest deal will serve to strengthen their relations. Kobe is the 6th largest city in Japan and the capital of Hyogo prefecture.
According to the agreement, the cities will partner in three key areas, namely; business, academics and public sector.
They also hope to enhance trade and investment.
The deal also seeks to enhance business dialogue between Japan and Africa, promote exchange programme to develop technical talent in mutually identified priority areas, including developing ‘smart cities’; and encourage exchange of new innovative industries and research opportunities, and promote tourism and cultural opportunities.
Kigali aspires to be a regional ICT hub.
Monique Mukaruliza, the Mayor of the City of Kigali, who signed the deal on behalf of CoK, said the new development is in line with the ‘Smart Kigali’ initiative, adding that the city is committed to the agreement.
Kizo Hisamoto, the Kobe city mayor who is visiting the country with a delegation of Japanese government and business leaders and who signed on behalf of his city, said the deal, the first Kobe has signed with an African city, was inspired by Rwanda’s commendable security levels and hard stance against corruption.
He said his city was committed to help Kigali in developing human resource capacity. “We hope this partnership will help generate and expand business opportunities in the ICT area,” he said
Speaking at the event, the Youth and ICT minister, Philbert Nsengimana, said Japan has been a key partner of Rwanda since 1994, especially in the areas of science and technology, and capacity building.
“I am delighted that this new partnership positions Rwanda as a gateway to the rest of Africa in ICT-related development partnerships. I look forward to a fruitful cooperation between the two cities,” he said
Under the Japan’s Africa Business Education Initiative for Youth, known as the ‘Abe initiative’ – which offers Masters scholarships and internships to African youth –, Kobe Institute of Computing hosts among them 12 Rwandans who are pursuing Maters degrees in ICT related fields. They are part of 49 African students at the university, which hosts the second highest number of scholars under the initiative.
Tomio Sakamoto, the Chargé d’Affaire at the Japanese embassy in Rwanda, said his country will continue to support Rwanda in efforts geared at turning the latter into a knowledge-based economy.
He cited the KIC initiative which seeks to produce at least 1000 Rwandan highly qualified Rwandan engineers by the year 2020, with 100 of them already trained.
Mayor Mukaruliza said the new deal will bolster the city’s bid to create more off-farm jobs.
The cities will also cooperate on housing and urban planning. “We have been told that Kigali population will triple by 2040. With such rapid growth rate, it is important to work on such areas as city planning,” said mayor Hisamoto.
While in the country, the Japanese delegation will take part in the 26th World Economic Forum on Africa, which opens in Kigali today.