President Paul Kagame and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn yesterday afternoon witnessed the signing of 11 bilateral agreements across multiple sectors as the two countries move to strengthen ties.
Desalegn is on a three day official visit to Rwanda accompanied by First Lady Roman Tesfaye and high level officials of his government.
The agreements inked between the two countries are in the areas of: extradition treaty, mutual legal assistance, communication, information and media, youth and sports, tourism and health.
The two countries also signed bilateral pacts in areas of education, culture, cooperation in prisons and correctional services, gender, women and children as well as water resources management.
Addressing the media after the agreements signing, President Kagame said that the two countries share aspirations and goals hence the need to work together and learn from one another.
He said that the growth and development ambitions in the two countries were characterised by multiple priorities across sectors and limited resources necessitating the nations to be innovative in their growth paths.
“The aspirations of Rwanda, Ethiopia and many African countries are very similar. We want to grow our economies, have shared growth, development and prosperity for our people. However, everything has to be done and at the same time,” the President said.
“What we are mainly challenged by is that we have the broad ambitions and have to deal with the challenge of limited resources, we have to be very innovative to make sure that we use our limited resources to achieve broad ambitions. This is something that we share with our brothers in Ethiopia.”
President Kagame also emphasized the importance of people centred development.
“We are working together to achieve what is required for our economies to keep growing in the interest of our people. When we put people first and at centre of what we are doing, it is the correct strategies and it will deliver,” Kagame said.
The Ethiopian premier echoed President Kagame’s sentiments, saying that the similarities between the two nations create ideal preconditions to learn from one another.
He said that his country has much to learn from Rwanda, which was partly the reason for his trips to the countryside during his visit.
Among the areas he said he was seeking to draw lessons is rural development and agricultural transformation, where Rwanda is ahead of Ethiopia.
He added that he was keen on learning models of having shared growth as well as design of some national policies and strategies.
“There is a lot to be learnt from Rwanda. Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and also has shared growth. This is the result of some policies and strategies designed. The most important thing is to learn from the policy prescription that makes Rwanda successful,” he said.
Desalegn noted that the process of the two nations learning from one another did not begin with this visit but has been going on for several years.
He observed that by learning from one another, both countries enjoy the ‘late comers’ advantage whereby they avoid mistakes made by the other in the development process.
He said that, from Rwanda, they were seeking to inform an ongoing project to improve their doing business status.
“We have a project to improve our doing business ranking globally. Our investment commission is working with the Rwandan team to learn. Rwanda is an African success story in this aspect and we can get ahead by emulating them in this aspect,” the visiting prime minister said.
Both leaders are supporters of south-south cooperation which is characterised by experience and lesson sharing of countries to support each other’s growth.
“There are also areas where Rwanda can learn from Ethiopia. The first step is to coordinate our policy recommendations and best practices. This should not only be between Rwanda and Ethiopia. It should be spread across the entire continent,” Desalegn added.
While in Rwanda, Prime Minister Desalegn visited Ntebe Integrated Model Village in Rwamagana District in Eastern Province where he studied firsthand the integrated development programme model used to settle poor families in rural settings across the country.
Prior to the news briefing, he had travelled to Gicumbi District to see agricultural transformation initiatives.