Rwanda and Benin are set to strengthen ties and bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit following a three day visit by Benin President Patrice Talon which began yesterday.
President Talon was received by President Paul Kagame who later hosted a state dinner in honour of his guest at the Kigali Convention Center.
Speaking at the reception, the two leaders pledged to continue supporting each other for the prosperity and development of the two nations.
President Kagame said that the two nations which already enjoy warm ties were in the process of further deepening cooperation with the implementation of developments such as flights by RwandAir to Cotonou, Benin.
“Rwanda and Benin are laying the foundation for much stronger ties between our two countries in the years ahead.”
“As you probably may have heard, RwandAir will soon begin flights to Cotonou. This definitely represents good cooperation, which we can continue to build on. In any case, we should have no excuse for failing to visit one another much more often from now on,” the President said.
Flights to Cotonou Benin are scheduled to start on September 2nd whereby the national carrier will conduct three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays with return flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
As the two countries seek closer cooperation, the president noted that the relationship should also be characterised by national unity and accountable public institutions.
“National unity and accountable public institutions are achievements that must never be taken for granted. Let’s keep supporting each other to do the right things for the benefit of our people and the world as a whole,” he said.
Kagame also congratulated the Republic of Benin and Talon on a successful election noting that good politics conducted in an atmosphere of transparency and stability is a basis for development.
On his part, President Talon said that his visit was among other purposes meant to express appreciation and pride in Rwanda’s leadership and turnaround.
“I wanted to visit Rwanda to express in the name of my country and as an African how proud we are of Rwanda's leadership. This country that became known because of its tragedy is now renowned for its leadership. I salute you in honour of the pride you give all of us as Africans,” President Talon said.
He said that Rwanda’s story was proof of the power of will and commitment.
He implored African countries to strengthen South to South Cooperation by having meaningful exchanges to learn from one another.
“South to South Cooperation can have a true meaning. My hope is that the cooperation between Rwanda and Benin can be that example. We can show that we can have meaningful exchanges and we can learn from each other,” he said.
In learning from Rwanda, he said that Benin would replicate the national visa regime which simplifies the country’s access for African passport holders by scraping of visa requirements.
“Learning from Rwanda, I have decided that Benin will no longer require visas for other Africans,” the President said.
Prior to the reception, President Talon held working sessions with various top level government officials to learn the various approaches and models used by Rwanda across several sectors.
He also toured Kigali Genocide Memorial Center where he visited the memorial and laid a wreath in honor of the genocide victims laid to rest at the memorial tombs.
During his stay, he is expected to hold discussions with President Kagame on bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The Benin President will also visit the Special Economic Zone in Masoro and the Rwanda Development Board.