Rwanda, Djibouti pledge to Strengthen cooperation

President Kagame and President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti addressing a joint press conference yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Djiboutian counterpart  Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, Saturday, pledged to do more to advance trade between the two countries as well as the integration of the larger Eastern Africa region.

The News Times reports that the two leaders reiterated their commitment to trade and regional integration during a joint press briefing at President Kagame’s office, Village Urugwiro, at the end of Guelleh’s two-day state visit in the country.

The briefing was preceded by the signing of a General Cooperation Agreement between the two countries to provide a foundation for future technical agreements as well as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaboration between Djibouti Ports Authority and the Rwanda Development Board.

“We are happy to continue cooperating with our brothers and sisters from Djibouti to strengthen the integration of our Eastern Africa region building on different activities that you are going to see happening and building on our relationship,” Kagame told journalists at the press briefing.

President Guelleh said that the signed agreements between the two countries “will help us to enlarge our cooperation depending on the needs”.

Rwanda and Djibouti have good trade and diplomatic ties but Guelleh’s visit is expected to further encourage the trend.

Found in the Horn of Africa, Djibouti is strategically located near the world’s busiest shipping lanes, controlling access to the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

President Kagame said at a state dinner organised in honour of President Guelleh on Friday that his visit will help advance the two countries’ partnership on trade and investment.

“Djibouti is a very important entry point to our region and a global crossroads in its own right. So, based on the fraternal relations we have, we can also take advantage of this and expand to other relevant activities,” Kagame said.

After arriving in the country on Friday, Guelleh visited the Special Economic Zone in Kigali’s Gasabo District, where Djibouti was offered a 10-hectare piece of land by the Government of Rwanda.

Djibouti was handed the land title documents for a plot near the Kigali Special Economic Zone at the press briefing. Rwanda was also offered a 20-hectare piece of land at the port of Djibouti in 2013, which the country plans to develop and operate as a strategic base for its imports and exports.

President Kagame urged Rwandan officials to fast-track the development of the 20-hectare piece of land at the port of Djibouti, saying that the land is an opportunity in line with Rwanda’s desire to deepen economic integration in Eastern Africa of which Djibouti is a part.

With the plot of land in Djibouti, Kagame said that Rwanda “will be served very well in a number of ways” through rade that will be facilitated through the land allocated at the port.

He, however, encouraged the private sector to take advantage of the Rwandan land at the port, saying that the Rwandan government is just a partner in the process to use it.

A statement from President Kagame’s office said that Rwanda and Djibouti were “looking to opening more windows of cooperation, with special focus on air transport and linking the special economic zone and the Djibouti port”.

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