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China, Rwanda to sign 15 pacts

Chinese President Xi Jinping will begin a 2-day state visit today, the first ever visit by a Chinese head of state to Rwanda.

The government says the two-day visit by President Xi is meant to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

He will be in the country on Sunday and Monday.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe revealed that part of the agenda during Xi’s visit will include signing a number of agreements between the two countries.

“We will sign about 15 bilateral memorandum of understandings (MOUs) and agreements, including those related to visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders, culture and scientific operation, and Silk Road Economic Belt cooperation,” he said.

While in the country, President Xi is expected to witness the signing of 15 bilateral pacts between the two nations, among them, visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders, culture and scientific operations as well as Silk Road Economic Belt cooperation.

Other agreements to be signed include strengthening cooperation in investment in e-commerce, cooperation in civil air transport, law enforcement cooperation and human resource development cooperation.

Going forward, the two countries will also cooperate in exchange of geology surveys, expansion of Masaka hospital, sign a concessional loan to construct Huye-Kibeho road as well as a loan agreement to construct Bugesera International Airport access road project.

China is one of Rwanda’s biggest sources of foreign direct investments with most of them in the manufacturing and real estate sectors.

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Trade and Industry show that Rwanda shipped in Rwf205 billion of imports from China compared to Rwf4.3 billion it exported in 2017.

On the basis of investment, over the last 12 years, Rwanda attracted 61 investment projects and joint ventures worth US$419.6 million from China. Actual investments are estimated at US$352. 6 million spanning tourism, mining and construction sectors

One of the major investments include C&H Garment Ltd, which began operations in 2014 producing garments mostly for exports. In 2016, the company exported goods Rwf1.057 billion to a combined market of China and United.

Another major investment by a Chinese firm is New Century Investment Ltd, which is a joint venture with a Rwandan investor. The project, valued at over $90 million, includes the building hosting Marriot Hotel.

Other Chinese investments in Rwanda include enterprises in retail, manufacturing and the hospitality sector.

The minister also told The Express News that they will also sign agreements in exchanges of geology survey, expansion of Masaka hospital, concessional loan to construct Huye-Kibeho road as well as a loan agreement to construct Bugesera International Airport access road project.

“This is a big visit to us,” the minister added.

President Xi will hold bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame and the two heads of states are expected to address a press conference. He will also visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Gisozi.

The Chinese head of state is also expected to meet the Chinese community in Rwanda, specifically Chinese companies operating in Rwanda.

For the past 12 years, the Chinese have initiated more than 21 investment projects worth US$420 million (about Rwf363.5 billion). They have investments in different areas like tourism, mining, hospitality and construction.

Nduhungirehe further stressed that there were ongoing negotiations seeking to clear the way for the national carrier, RwandAir, to fly to Guangzhou.

He revealed that there were optimistic that these conversations will bear fruits soon and RwandAir might start flights to China’s economic city by February 2019 even though it was earlier planned that RwandAir flights to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in Guangdong Province would start mid-this year.

Meanwhile, Xi’s visit comes after Rwanda hosted the President of Mozambique Filipe Nyusi, who left yesterday.

His visit will also be followed another landmark visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Both India and China are moving to further bolster their roles as some of the continent’s closest economic and diplomatic allies.

The Express News

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