By Lavie Mutanganshuro, Kigali.
The Government of Rwanda and the People’s Republic of China on February 19 signed an economic and technical cooperation agreement for a grant worth RMB Yuan 400 million (approximately U$ 60 million).
At the same ceremony, both countries signed a debt cancellation agreement worth RMB Yuan 40 million-an equivalent of US$ 6 million.
According to Uzziel Ndagijimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, both agreements will help the country to recover from economic impacts brought by COVID-19.
“We appreciate this support by the Government of the People’s Republic of China during these challenging times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This debt cancellation will free some resources that were otherwise going to be used for debt payment,” he said.
He added: “The grant of RMB Yuan 400 Million is significant and will be used for a priority project to be agreed upon. I take this opportunity to thank the People’s Republic of China for the continued support and cooperation in major sectors of our development.”
In his remarks, RAO Hongwei, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Rwanda, noted that the new deal cements the already existing good relationship between China and Rwanda.
“Today’s signing of the two agreements also fully demonstrates China’s profound friendship with and strong support to Rwanda,” he said.
China hopes, by extending the new financial support, to make contribution to Rwanda’s transformation and recovery from the malign impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
50 years of cooperation
The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Rwanda. The main areas of cooperation between both countries include transport, agriculture, health, education, and energy.
According to Ambassador Hongwei, the cooperation has been deepening, thanks to a historic visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to Rwanda in 2018 among other developments.
The visit that aimed at further strengthening diplomatic ties and cooperation between the two countries followed President Paul Kagame’s visit to China in March 2017.
“Since Chinese President XI Jinping’s historic visit to Rwanda in 2018, the bilateral relationship between Rwanda and China has reached a record high and the comprehensive cooperation between the two countries,” the Ambassador noted.
“In these times of major new opportunities and challenges, we are ready to work with Rwandan friends to forge new opportunities out of crises, make new advances amid changes and build an even more glorious tomorrow for China-Rwanda relations,” he added.
While in the country, President Jinping witnessed the signing of 15 bilateral pacts between the two nations, including visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders, culture and scientific operations.
Other agreements signed involve strengthening cooperation in investment in e-commerce, cooperation in civil air transport, law enforcement cooperation, and human resource development cooperation.
Following the visit, the two countries went further to collaborate in exchange of geology surveys, expansion of Masaka hospital, signed a concessional loan to construct 66 km road in Southern Province of Rwanda. Once completed, the road will have cost Rwf70 billion which is a loan from Exim- Import Bank from China.
China is one of Rwanda’s biggest sources of foreign direct investments with most of them in the manufacturing and real estate sectors.