19 April 2017

Rwanda, Djibouti Sign Five Bilateral Agreements

Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times
President Kagame is received by his counterpart, President Ismael Omar Guelleh, on arrival in Djibouti.

Rwanda and Djibouti yesterday signed five bilateral agreements during the first day of a two-day state visit by President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame to Djibouti.

The agreements aim to strengthen bilateral ties in several key areas including; air services, visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, establishment of joint commission and a protocol agreement on ICT cooperation.

The state visit by President Kagame to the Horn of Africa nation follows a state visit by President Ismael Omar Guelleh to Rwanda last year when two bilateral agreements were signed.

During yesterday's signing ceremony, President Kagame said that beyond the win-win scenarios, the partnership was also aimed at advocating for collaboration across the continent.

"We continue to advocate for greater unity. The goal is increased prosperity for Djibouti, Rwanda, our region and Africa. We enjoy each step of our continued cooperation and brotherhood that will give rise to what needs to be done in our region," he said.

He noted that the two countries share close bilateral ties as well as a belief in the importance of a strong and dignified continent.

Particularly, in the interest of the continent at large, Kagame said that Rwanda and Djibouti will partner to advance regional integration and in implementing the African Union reforms blueprint presented by President Kagame and adopted by all Heads of States during the last African Union Summit in January this year.

"We continue to work together to advance integration in the region and continent, particularly through ongoing African Union reforms," he said.

The Head of State noted that the cooperation was not limited to the aspects covered by the signed agreements and would continue to grow as more areas are identified.

"We are keen to advance partnership in the areas of investment in economic zones, air transportation, ICT and others. Our cooperation is not limited to these areas but extend to many others that our two sides find mutually beneficial," he said.

Kagame described Djibouti as a nation Rwanda was keen on partnering with to advance its own development.

"It is clear that Djibouti is a country on the move and we can only be happy about our brotherly country to be making this progress and we want to be strong partners in the progress that your country is making," he told his counterpart.

President Guelleh said that the two nations have a strong commitment to grow ties in various areas including trade, investments and culture and make the most of opportunities yet to be exploited.

Among the key areas he said ought to be developed include logistics between the two countries to allow free movement of goods and people to promote trade.

"Transportation remains a key sector to the business community indeed for the free movement of goods and people which is necessary to enhance trade across the region and would be a model to the rest of the continent. We can harness our comparative advantage and work on having regular cargo and passenger flights between Rwanda and Djibouti," Guelleh said.

The Djibouti leader added that the two countries should also develop the plots of land exchanged by the two countries.

Djibouti offered Rwanda a 20-hectare piece of land at the port of Djibouti in 2013, and the government in Kigali plans to develop and operate as a strategic base for its imports and exports.

During President Guelleh's visit last year, Djibouti was in reciprocity offered a plot of land in the Special Economic Zone in Kigali's Gasabo District.

He also expressed his nation's solidarity with Rwanda in the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

"It is the duty and the responsibility of each of us to remember what happened in April 1994 in Rwanda and pass on that memory to future generations. I believe that what you have achieved in your country is a tribute to the strength and resilience of your people who will remain an example for humanity and African people in particular," he said.

The first day of the State visit ended with a State Banquet hosted by President Guelleh and First Lady Kadra Mahamoud Haid in honor of President Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame.

Today, President Kagame is expected to address the nation's parliament as well as visit the Port of Doraleh before winding up his two day visit.

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