Rwanda: New Embassies - Rwanda Pursues Economic, Diplomatic Gains

16 October 2019

Earlier this year, Rwanda said it was opening new missions to Ghana, Morocco, and Qatar.

As a result the government appointed new envoys to represent Rwanda to the new missions who have already assumed their responsibilities.

The envoys to new diplomatic postings include Sheikh Saleh Habimana who will represent Rwanda to the Kingdom of Morocco, Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira to Ghana and François Nkulikiyimfura to Qatar.

But what are Rwanda’s strategic interests in these countries?

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of the East African Community, Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, said the opening of new missions was part of the country’s target to have more bilateral relations with different countries.

“We want to strengthen our bilateral cooperation with different countries and, of course, Ghana is a strong country in West Africa. It is important that we have an embassy there and explore business opportunities,” he said.

The mission to Ghana is particularly as a result of a pledge by President Paul Kagame during his different meetings with his Ghanaian counterpart Nana Akufo-Addo, the Minister said.

The two have met on different occasions.

Under the National Strategy for Transformation, which runs till 2024, Rwanda sees economic diplomacy as one of the strategies drive up Foreign Direct Investments.

Therefore, opening up new embassies is part of the tactic to achieve this ambition.

Policymakers in Rwanda see Morocco, which has signed various agreements with Rwanda, a strategic country in North Africa and the whole region.

This year alone, the two countries signed 12 agreements in areas of trade, environment, mining, geology and hydrocarbons, judicial cooperation and human capital development, bringing the total number of agreements between the two nations to thirty-six.

Since the visit of King Mohamed VI, in October 2016 in Kigali, Moroccan investors have made commitments worth $160 million in agri-business, health, industry, energy and construction among others.

Some of these investments commitments are from companies like Cooper Pharma, which is in the process of establishing a pharmaceutical plant at the Kigali Economic Free Zone, as well as OCP Africa which plans to set-up a fertilizer blending facility.

For Qatar, Nduhungirehe said, it was similarly a good move to open an embassy in the country, given the target the Government has to “facilitate business between the two countries.”

Rwanda and Qatar have been trying to promote their economic ties for the past two years.

President Paul Kagame and the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani have met on several occasions, and Qatari investors have visited Rwanda several times.

First, President Kagame and Hamad Al-Thani met in September last year on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, and later in November, Kagame paid a two-day visit to Qatar.

During the time, bilateral relations which sought to accelerate economic cooperation, a number of agreements were signed.

This included agreements in the areas of air services, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, and a memorandum of understanding on economic, commercial, and technical cooperation.

In April this year, the Emir of Qatar also visited Rwanda during which four accords were signed.

In a separate visit by the Qatar Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the two countries have agreed to enhance trade relations in multiple sectors including agriculture, technology, mining and transport.

Rwanda established diplomatic relations with Qatar in 2017.

Growing relations

Rwanda now has 36 diplomatic missions, covering more than 147 countries, regional and international organisations, in addition to more than 37 honorary consuls representing its strategic interests in 17 countries.

Meanwhile, after nearly six years without an ambassador in Canada, the Government posted Prosper Higiro as Rwanda’s high commissioner to Canada.

Nduhungirehe indicated that it was important to have a high commission in Canada.

Canada backed Louise Mushikiwabo to the position of the Secretary-General of Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), one of the biggest linguistic zones in the world.

And given the big number of Rwandans living in Canada, the Minister said they were hoping the new ambassador would mobilise the Rwandan community for the good of the country.

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