The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda, Israel Sign Deal for Stronger Ties

Rwanda has signed a partnership agreement with Israel that establishes a forum for consultations between the two States. The bilateral deal is also expected to boost Rwanda's foreign direct investments from Israeli businesses.

The deal was signed in Kigali by the visiting Israel Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman and his Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo yesterday.

The two signed a Declaration of Intent, which aims at forging closer relations, and a memorandum of understanding on consultations between the two countries.

The MoU is to serve as a mechanism for promotion of cooperation in various areas, including education, health, energy and technology transfer.

After the signing, Lieberman, who is leading a delegation of more than 60 people for a two-day visit, met with President Paul Kagame and discussed areas of interest and cooperation between Israel and Rwanda.

The majority of Lieberman's entourage are Israeli businessmen who are seeking investment opportunities and joint ventures with Rwandans.

Shared destiny:

Speaking after meeting with President Kagame, Lieberman said both countries share a similar destiny.

"Rwanda suffered for many years and for the Jewish people, it is much easier to understand your history. Our political relations (Rwanda and Israel) are very stable and very good," he said.

"Now we are speaking of upgrading our economic relations and we hope that Israeli investors will come to Rwanda and develop the economic ties. We are speaking about high tech ICT industry, agriculture and hope to see Rwanda opening up its embassy in Tel Aviv soon."

Minister Mushikiwabo said Rwanda and Israel share an important desire to work hard and move fast.

"When you have common values and traits, you still want to do more practical and tangible things that are allow for mutual advancement. Through our two ministries of foreign affairs, we are going to go to other sectors in our respective countries; for example, one of the sectors our countries have been working together is agriculture, which also justifies the launch of the center for excellence in agriculture inaugurated in Mulindi," Mushikiwabo said.

The centre for excellence in agriculture was inaugurated yesterday.

The Israeli delegation, interests:

Earlier, Mushikiwabo noted that there are many reasons for the two nations to work together, one of them being history, "which makes us very special allies."

"I think there is a potential market for us and, I was really very encouraged by the huge interest [in Rwanda] from our business community," Lieberman said.

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) chief operations officer Claire Akamanzi, shed light on how easy, and in what areas the Israeli business community can explore in the country.

"Israel is of high interest to us as a country. The structure of the economy of Israel is very much in line with where Rwanda wants to go - knowledge and services based economy. We think there is a lot we can learn," Akamanzi said.

Israel is a highly industrialised economy with a population of eight million people.

Akamanzi added: "We are an open country. We have liberalised our economy and so you can own a business in Rwanda as a foreigner. There are no restrictions in terms of the number of shares you can have in a company or the type of industry you can invest in; it's completely open."

Rwanda and Israel on business:

The World Bank's ranks Rwanda 32nd best easiest country for doing business in the world and second best on the continent. Israel ranks 35th worldwide.

The Israelis, RDB and other stakeholders discussed ways of promoting business and investments opportunities in areas such as irrigation technology and agro-mechanisation, clean energy technology, waste treatment and water infrastructure equipment, mining, aviation, infrastructure, Israeli technology in education, including interactive multimedia systems and financial consultancy.

Dan Redlich, brand manager of Danco, an Israeli company that deals in petroleum products for a range of purposes including industrial and agricultural machinery told The New Times that he thinks Rwanda, and Africa, offer business potentials.

The delegation will also explore opportunities in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ivory Coast.

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