The Swedish government on Tuesday marked 20 years in the country, having been here since 1997.
Over the 20 years, Sweden interventions have been in the education sector, housing for refugees, gender equality, police cooperation, media development and efficient decentralization among others.
Reminiscing Sweden’s first entrance to Rwanda, Jenny Ohlsson the country’s envoy to Rwanda, said that the first Swedish representative on ground started in a rented room at Umubano hotel and only had a driver as staff.
This, she said, was driven by the need to learn more about the country and mull ways to support development.
At the time of establishing presence, the closest embassy to Rwanda was based in Nairobi, Kenya.
However, that has since changed and the country now has an ambassador based in Rwanda beginning last year.
Like any long term relationship, the Swedish envoy admitted that there has been ups and downs with the low moments largely characterized by misunderstandings and different viewpoints on matters.
Over the coming years, Sweden is keen to work with Rwanda in a range of areas including strengthening climate resilience, employment programmes, and decent work conditions.
Ohlsson said that they plan to continue partnership in higher education, research cooperation, reconciliation programmes, women empowerment, gender equality and media development among others.
She noted that there are also efforts to move the partnership from aid based to trade in line with the country’s ambition.
“I see more and more Swedish companies curious about Rwanda. I hear your call to move from aid to more trade,” Ohlsson said.
Commenting on the partnership between the two countries, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion Nadine Umutoni said that Rwanda and Sweden have enjoyed warm ties.
On the issue of democracy which has often stirred controversy, she said conversations would continue but ought to be held with an understanding of the Rwandan context and in the interest of what is best for the Rwandan people.
She maintained that the government always puts citizens’ interest ahead of anything else.
In marking their 20 year in Rwanda, the Swedish embassy held a photo-exhibition entitled ‘Swedish Dads’ and ‘Rwandan Dads’ that featured the importance of gender equality in children’s upbringing.