President Paul Kagame and his Congolese counterpart Joseph Kabila have agreed to strengthen the two countries’ cooperation on energy generation, cross-border trade, and security.
The two leaders made the announcement, yesterday, after a bilateral meeting lasting about two hours in Rubavu, Western Province, on the Rwandan side of the border with DR Congo.
President Kagame holds a joint press conference with President Kabila in Rubavu, August 12. / Village Urugwiro/YouTube
In a joint news briefing and statement released after President Kabila’s one-day working visit to Rwanda, the two leaders pledged to speed up work to tap into the extraction of methane gas in Lake Kivu to generate energy, strengthen cross-border trade, and establish a strong mechanism for sharing intelligence.
“Rwanda and DR Congo being very close neighbours, we always get concerned for each other. We want security, we want economic cooperation, and we want stability for each other. So, we are discussing how to enhance that,” President Kagame told journalists after the meeting.
With Rwanda recently launching its own 26-megawatts worth more than $200 million power plant fired by methane gas from Lake Kivu, the cooperation with DR Congo would allow for an increase in the energy generated from extracting the gas from the shared waters of the lake with the aim of benefiting the citizens of both nations.
“This time we are being more specific and we want to move with a sense of urgency and speed to implement some of the things we have agreed on and that include exploitation of methane gas for various reasons,” Kagame said.
With the Rubavu border ranking as one of the most active borders across Africa, the two countries are also investing in promoting cross-border trade, with concrete projects, including the construction of a one-stop border post in Rubavu to facilitate movement of goods and people.
“The areas are clear, the need is there, the possibilities are there; so what we need is to realise speedy implementation through cooperation,” Kagame said.
Trade and ties
Rwanda’s exports to the DR Congo represent the biggest share of her informal exports, representing 75 per cent of the total informal cross-border exports.
Apart from investing in building a one-stop border post with DR Congo, Rwanda is interested in building modern warehouses at the border with Congo to facilitate traders.
In March 2016, the Government signed a partnership deal with Alpha Logistics Limited to build a modern bonded warehouse at Petite Barrière border in Rubavu District for $8.6 million (about Rwf6.5 billion).
Regarding cooperation in the area of security, both sides hailed the progress made in line with eradicating negative forces operating in DR Congo such as FDLR militia and stressed the importance of establishing a strong mechanism for the timely sharing of intelligence.
While Kagame welcomed DR Congo government’s efforts to fight the FDLR, he also emphasised that it remains that government’s responsibility even if it might work with whoever they want in that process.
President Kabila pledged to continue military action against the FDLR, vowing that the efforts won’t stop until the militia is finished.
“There are operations against the FDLR that are on-going since three years ago. We didn’t issue a deadline for the end of these operations specifically because we believe that the end of these operations will depend on the end of the FDLR. It means that as long as the FDLR is still there we will continue with the operations against it,” Kabila said.
The two countries also committed to mutual efforts to beef up bilateral relations, with the two presidents, saying in yesterday’s post-meeting statement that diplomatic relations between Rwanda and DR Congo will be further enhanced.
President Kagame accompanied his Congolese counterpart to the Rubavu border with the DR Congo at about 3:30pm, marking the end of the latter’s working visit.