NYARUGENGE - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rosemary Museminali, has hailed the fifth Rwanda-Japan annual policy dialogue which took place on Monday at the ministry.
“Let me emphasize that this particular policy dialogue takes place at an opportune time, right after the recently held TICAD IV Summit which was fruitful,” she observed.
Jointly chaired by Museminali and Shigeo Iwatani, Japan’s envoy to Rwanda, the discussions come in the wake of the May Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD IV).
During the summit, Japan’s Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda announced the intention to double official development assistance (ODA) to Africa by 2012.
“It is our considered opinion and we believe it is shared with our Japanese counterparts, that the theme of the TICAD IV summit – ‘Towards a vibrant Africa’, should underline the outcome of this 5th policy dialogue,” she recommended.
The Japanese envoy also acknowledged the significance of the timing of the meeting.
“This year’s policy dialogue is positioned as a follow-up meeting of TICAD IV,” said Iwatani, adding, “I am looking forward to fruitful discussions.”
He pointed out that during TICAD IV, President Kagame put emphasis on the need for partnerships in infrastructure and energy development, human resource development, science and technology, trade and investment.
“Japan’s bilateral economic cooperation with Rwanda corresponds to these areas and we wish to continue in this direction in accordance with the national development plan,” Iwatani said.
Human resource development and rural development are the two priority areas of development cooperation previously agreed upon.
According to the ministry of foreign affairs, the two countries are enjoying excellent and growing relations, especially since Japan resumed its bilateral assistance to Rwanda in 2004.
Since then, the two sides have been holding annual policy dialogue on economic cooperation. Through this forum, they agreed that Japan’s main support areas should include human resource development with emphasis on science and technological education and rural development, with emphasis on multi-sectoral community development.
“In line with the requests made by the Rwandan side, including those by the President himself, Japan is implementing three concrete programmes,” said Iwatani.
Accordingly, strengthening education and training in science and technology, agriculture and community development, and improvement of public transport are the other ventures.
The rehabilitation of Rusumo Bridge, solar and energy hydro-electricity, and agricultural projects are some projects presented by Rwanda.
“Rwanda also requests the government of Japan to reconsider its position on the Kibungo-Ramiro road project due to its future importance in connecting Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania,” said Museminali.
She underscored government’s insistence to see future bilateral relations focusing on projects that contribute to the acceleration of economic growth.
The minister also underlined that the government had done a lot in terms of putting in place ‘soft’ infrastructure – good governance, transparent leadership and zero tolerance on corruption, but acknowledged that financial limitations hinder its desire to develop ‘hard’ infrastructure – road networks, railways, airports, among others.
“This limits our capability in attracting private investment which is the main engine of economic development,” she said.
Apart from foreign affairs, several other line-ministries, beneficiaries of Japan aid projects like MINAGRI, MINEDUC, MINITERE and MININFRA were represented at the meeting.
Ambassador Iwatani’s delegation also included people from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) country office.