21 June 2019

Rwanda, France Move to Strengthen Economic Ties

The Director General of the French Development Agency (AFD), Remy Rioux, is on a two-day visit to Rwanda for talks on key areas of cooperation between Rwanda and France as the two countries look to stronger ties.

AFD is the implementing agency of different development-oriented interventions that France is engaged with globally.

The agency funds projects that improve living conditions for populations, promote economic growth, and protect the planet.

This is the first official visit ever by an AFD director general since 1992.

During his visit, Rioux will meet different government officials, mainly in agriculture, education and infrastructure sectors, to discuss possible areas of cooperation and projects that need financing.

In a meeting on Thursday with the State Minister for Economic Planning, Claudine Uwera, he said that AFD will continue their interventions in Rwanda in the financial sector, which they have been running over the past 25 years.

"The cooperation between our countries is on course to being rejuvenated; France wishes to not only support Rwanda but also get inspired by Rwanda's development from a lot of innovations in the country as well as efficiency of public service," Rioux said.

He said that the two countries share the same SDGs objectives by 2030 where each of them is looking to leverage technologies and public policies to fight climate change in the interest of their peoples.

Rioux yesterday signed an agreement worth Euros 20 million with Bank of Kigali to finance SMEs, mainly tech startups.

Another agreement will be signed on Friday between AFD and Smart Africa that will be looking to support potential digital projects from across Africa as part of Europe-Africa joint effort to find digital solutions.

"We are planning to meet different government representatives so that, by the end of the visit, we can understand the country's priorities, people's needs and, therefore, see how the financing can be mobilised in line with the AFD financial expertise," he said

AFD targets to inject Euros 14 billion towards different development projects across the globe, of which 50 per cent is allocated for Africa.

In Rwanda, the agency was financing the energy sector before suspending its operations in mid-2000 following collapse of ties between Rwanda and France.

It, however, continued its projects indirectly, though different financial institutions like Bank of Kigali, Banque Populaire, and I&M Bank as well as the Development Bank of Rwanda.

The Agency is now looking to increase partnerships and deploy more financing in Rwanda's development projects in different sectors.

"We are looking forward to exchanging experiences, especially on a development perspective", Uwera said.

"There are a number of projects that they have been financing while we have more that we hope to work together on enhancing development.

"I believe both our countries mutually benefit from our cooperation, and that is why we want to see it continue growing," she added.

On Thursday evening, the French delegation was slated to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente at his offices in Kimihurura.

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