The Rwandan High Commissioner to the UK, Yamina Karitanyi, Wednesday night hosted in London a special product presentation event on RwandAir’s recently-launched London service.
The aim of the well attended event was to showcase the potential of the airline to facilitate movement and trade (import and export) between the United Kingdom and Africa.
Guests represented 11 African nations which RwandAir connects to, including High Commissioners and Ambassadors of Zambia, Kenya and Gabon, business professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as officials from the UK Government.
At the onset, Karitanyi welcomed the guests to Rwanda House, inviting them to experience “a bit of Rwanda” as they gathered in the Mission’s replica of a Rwandan traditional home and sampled Rwandan coffee.
Also present at the event were senior officials from the national carrier RwandAir and the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB).
The two institutions, the envoy said, “will work hand in hand to increase Rwanda’s foreign exchange earnings.”
She encouraged guests to engage with the institutions’ representatives in order to “take advantage of their quality and varied product offerings”.
Dennis Rwiliriza, Country Manager for RwandAir in the U.K shared the carrier’s journey so far, and how it aims to facilitate both movement of people and trade.
He noted some of the carrier’s milestones to date, including the recent hub-launch in Cotonou, Benin, which will help the airline reach more countries in West and Central Africa.
Rwiliriza also spoke on RwandAir’s cargo service and said that this service, coupled with the airline’s fast and growing connections in Africa, can significantly boost trade between exporters from Africa and buyers from the UK.
Speaking on Rwanda’s export potential and ambitions, Amb. Bill Kayonga, CEO of Rwanda’s National Agriculture and Export Board (NAEB), affirmed that RwandAir’s direct flights is a “game-changer” and is the reason why exporters from Rwanda have come to London to talk directly to potential buyers, as it solves the issue of high costs to reach destination markets, which has long been a hindrance to Rwandan farmers and producers.
Looking ahead, the CEO said that Rwanda plans on developing the value-added sector, by having the products produced and packaged in Rwanda, shortening the product’s journey from crop to cup and achieving greater sustainability in Rwanda, and in Africa.
Ambassador Kayonga also noted that the success of RwandAir and positive interest in Rwandan produce in the U.K. is because of Rwanda’s visionary leadership and the continued good bilateral relations with the U.K.
Lord Stuart Polak, Conservative Peer and Director of the ‘Conservatives Friends of Israel’ commended RwandAir and pledged his continued support to the High Commission, in the spirit of continued good relations between Rwanda and the U.K.
Earlier in the day, the High Commissioner had led the delegation from Rwanda, along with the RwandAir UK team and other partners, at a site visit at the New Covent Garden Market, London's finest fruit, vegetable and flower wholesale market, where they were met by the management and members of the Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC).
RwandAir launched its direct service London-Kigali-London this year on May 26.
Currently the airline flies three times a week from London to Kigali, with its inbound route flying through Brussels.