Rwanda and Indonesia have committed to strengthening ties between both countries following the launch of a "friendship association" between the two countries, in an event that was held in Kigali on Sunday.
The Ambassador of Indonesia to Rwanda, Dr. Pardele Ratlan and Theophille Rurangwa who represented the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed both countries' interest to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
"Indonesia is grateful to have such a good bilateral relationship with Rwanda and we are hopeful that it will grow stronger through joint cooperation," the Indonesian envoy said.
Rurangwa agreed, saying practical steps have been taken.
"Rwandans can now travel to Indonesia without visa for 30 days and vice versa. Adding on that, discussions on how to establish a direct flight from Kigali to Jakarta are ongoing," he said.
It was with this commitment that Rwanda and Indonesia Friendship Association (RIFA) was established to ease the linkage and flow of both economic and cultural bilateral ties.
The association, according to officials, was requested by the Embassy of Indonesia to Rwanda, which is currently resident in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The association brings together the alumni of Indonesian scholarship awardees from Rwanda who have since completed their studies. Currently, there are 36 members of the alumni association.
"We need to have strong people-to-people connection and interaction. Along this objective, we identify the necessity of establishing a strong multitrack diplomacy, encompassing all stakeholders including students, citizens, businessmen, and government representatives from Indonesia and Rwanda," he remarked.
He added that his country is considering to increase the number of students offered scholarships to Indonesia. Currently, it offers scholarships to postgraduates who are pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses.
"We will see how undergraduate in diversified fields can be also be offered scholarships."
Olivia Umutesi is a fresh graduate with a master's degree in environmental science from Indonesia. She told The New Times how helpful the association will be.
"I am now working on a waste management project and via RIFA, I hope to get support from both Indonesia and Rwanda. The association is timely," she said.
Indonesia is the 7th biggest country globally with a total population of 240 million people. It is also a member of G-20, a summit that brings together 20 biggest economies.
Economically, Indonesia has large mineral deposits, petroleum, agro products, and tourism among others. In 2017, Guillaume Kavaruganda presented credentials to represent Rwanda in Indonesia.