13 December 2017

Rwanda: UK Envoy Reminisces About Time in Rwanda

The Outgoing British High Commissioner to Rwanda, William Gelling, has said that he is proud of the increased trade between the two countries over the last four years of his term in office.

Gelling was Tuesday speaking during a farewell news conference at the British High Commission in Kigali to share his memories of his time in Rwanda, as well as reflecting on the UK-Rwanda relations.

"Looking back at the past four years it has been a very interesting time and a time of great increase in engagements between the U.K and Rwanda," he said.

"The biggest change I have seen over the last four years is the increase in trade and investment between the two countries and in particular exports from Rwanda to the U.K. So when I look back at the last four years I think about things like the increasing investments in the tourism sector from U.K, in business services things like consultancy, architecture, accountancy," he said.

Gelling has served as British High Commissioner to Rwanda for four years having been appointed in 2014 succeeding Benedict Llewellyn-Jones.

Gelling also celebrated the success achieved between the two countries in aerospace, citing the sales of aircraft from Bombardier, Airbus and Rolls Royce to Rwanda as well as the start of direct air links between Rwanda and the United Kingdom by RwandAir.

He also expressed delight about the state of fresh produce exports from Rwanda to the U.K.

"I was really pleased to hear last week that Rwandan exports of fresh produce are increasing very rapidly to the U.K," he said.

Among other things, Gelling said that the two countries have also experienced growing political links, where each summer a large number of Conservative Party members of Parliament have been coming to Rwanda as well as three or four select committees from the U.K's House of Commons visiting the country.

He also cited the recent official visit of U.K's minister for Africa, Rory Stewart.

He also noted the expansion of the British Council in Rwanda, which is UK's international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. According to Gelling, the organisation has expanded about three times over the last year.

"It all shows that the engagement between Rwanda and U.K, between British people and Rwandan people, between British companies and Rwandan companies, and between the two governments is really great," he said.

On a personal note, Gelling said that he and his family have loved being in the country for the last four years, and raising their children in Kigali which is "a wonderful place to bring them up."

Gelling joined the U.K's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2001. He previously served as Private Secretary to U.K's Foreign Secretary, advising him on the Middle East, Africa, the UN and the Commonwealth.

Before that, he had also led a team involved in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme; was posted to Baghdad as Liaison Officer between the British Embassy and the Multinational Military Headquarters; served for three years in Pakistan, covering political, conflict and extremism issues; and was attached to a British trade office in India.

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