The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda-Gabon to Boost Investment Opportunities

PRESIDENT Paul Kagame and his Gabonese counterpart, Ali Bongo Odimba have agreed to boost investment opportunities within their countries as part of strengthening the exist relations between the two country.

The two Heads of States announced their countries' interests during a joint press briefing at the end of President Bongo's two day visit to Rwanda.

"We are strong believer is south-south cooperation, and that is the main purpose of my visit here. In Gabon we are trying to diversify our economy, in doing so we are in the process of identifying partners for us, and it is natural to start with our neighbors," said President Bongo.

Gabon's economy relies mainly on petroleum and according to President Bongo, it was impontant for him to come to Rwanda see what is being done and talk and exchange experiences as part of finding avenues to stronger partnership with Rwanda.

"If my neighbor has a great achievement in a specific area where am not as good, it is ridiculous for me to try to compete with him, instead, I would say, let us work together and if there a possibility of me investing to give that business even more, there would be a mutual benefit for both of us...this is the kind of cooperation that we are talking about," he said.

Part of President Bongo visit in Rwanda was at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to explore investment opportunities.

"There are success stories in this country, we want to know about them and we also want to know how we could also benefit from that. The reverse is also true, there are also success stories in Gabon, things that we do better, so we talk about that we exchange and at the end of the day we make each other stronger. This is about opportunities for our countries, and creating jobs for our people and in the end we make sure that we can bring in progress to our people," he said.

President Kagame retaliated that it is a two way thing, "we are ready to encourage private sector to go out and explore and see what opportunities are available to invest in and what they can do with their partners in Gabon. The main theme here is about investing in and with each other."

He added that the two countries are focused at move together forward in form of strong partnership.

"Our investment agencies are already working together to indentify which places our private sectors can invest in. Something is already happening," said President Kagame, adding that "we want to keep elevating that and what is happening is exciting...it starts with goodwill and everybody willing to their part and do it in the best way they can and that is already happening and we are very happy with that."

Prior to that, President Kagame had held talks with his Gabonese counterpart of which he said that noted that they focused mainly on bilateral relations which are already very good.

"We want to find all ways to maintain that and even ensure that it goes beyond bilateral and work together on global issues. We are looking forward to this very strong partnership in the interest of our countries as well as our continent," he said.

President Kagame however refuted press reports that his counterpart had visited him to purposely study from Rwanda to study at first hand its experience with bilingualism so that his country can adopt English as one of the official languages.

Gabon, a former colony of France, has French as its official language.

Rwanda made English one of its official languages, alongside Kinyarwanda and French, and has since made it the language of instruction in schools.

"We couldn't have met because of small things; the President wouldn't have left all his commitment just to talk about language. There are bigger issues to deal with, issues of our people to lift them out of poverty, development of our countries and our continent and everything that can improve Gabon and Rwanda," said President Kagame.

He added, "We are both francophone and Anglophone. We didn't abandon one and go for the other, we embraced both. We feel the benefits to ourselves. We brought together the good things from one side and the good things from the other side, so there is no loss. We have gained everything from what francophone and Anglophone provides."

Reacting to the same language issue, President Bongo said that, "this is ridiculous; there are major issues to talk about than silly things like that."

The two heads of state also spoke about Africa's relations with China where they both pointed opout that what Africa is interested in is mutual benefit.

"...China- Africa relations are as important as Africa relating with any other part of the world. China, evidently, is an important player in global affairs especially in patters of trade, investments and other issues that's why you find the whole world is interested in china, facts speak for themselves.

"As the rest of the rest of the World is interest in china, so is Africa and the reverse is true. China big as it, wealthy as it is becoming, that would not happen if it doesn't work with the rest of the world," said President Kagame.

President Bongo hastened to back up his Rwandan counterpart's remarks saying that it is very normal for Africa to relations with china.

"We invite Chinese investment in Africa as we also invite investments from other parts of the world. So I would say it's normal for us to have those relations. What we are interested in is the win-win situation which benefits our people and we should not see anything else beyond that," he said.

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