India, Rwanda become strategic partners

Gandhinagar, Jan 10 (IANS) India and Rwanda on Tuesday agreed to raise the level of bilateral cooperation to a strategic partnership and India extended a $120 million credit to bring over 41,190 hectares of cultivable land under irrigation in the African country.

India’s Line of Credit to Rwanda and the development of Export Targeted Irrigated Agriculture Project and its expansion “would bring irrigation facilities to more than 41,190 hectares of cultivable land”, the two countries said in a joint statement and agreed to fast-track its implementation.

The joint statement was issued after bilateral talks of Rwanda President Paul Kagame and Prime Minister Narendra Modi here. The Rwanda President is on a working visit — his maiden official visit to India — from January 9-11.

During Kagame’s visit, Rwanda signed the instrument and became the 25th co-signatory to the International Solar Alliance, an Indian initiative.

“The two leaders acknowledged the importance of this alliance in advancing new solar technologies worldwide. The two leaders also recalled the solar electrification of 35 schools in rural Rwanda under a grant from government of India as an example of South-South cooperation,” the joint statement said.

The statement said the development of Export Targeted Irrigated Agriculture Project “would benefit the people of Rwanda through construction of watershed works, farm mechanization and establishment of post harvest processing units of agricultural produce”.

President Kagame acknowledged India’s assistance in augmenting Rwanda’s electricity production with the commissioning of the 28 MW Hydroelectric Project on the Nyabarongo River under a line of credit of $80 million.

Through lines of credit, India conveyed its readiness to support phase II of the Nyabarongo power project, Technical and Vocational Training Centres (TVET) and Huye-Kibeho road project.

Prime Minister Modi further announced gifting of $2 million worth of medicines and a cash grant of $1 million for sourcing medical equipment from India.

Calling terrorism a “serious threat to humanity”, both leaders reiterated their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and stressed that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever, agreeing that there should be zero tolerance on terrorism.

Rwanda appreciated the training of its defence forces in various Indian Army training institutions under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) initiative.

The two sides also noted with satisfaction that training and scholarships under India-Africa Forum Summit process are an important mechanism for training and capacity building, the statement read.

India and Rwanda exchanged the Memorandum of Understanding on Forensic Sciences by the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University to support Rwanda’s National Police in modernising Forensic investigations.

Welcoming the initiative of a direct RwandAir flight from capital city Kigali to Mumbai, the joint statement said: “Both sides continue to work on concluding a Bilateral Air Services Agreement and an agreement for the exemption of visa for diplomatic and official passport holders.”

Both sides also agreed to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in culture, tourism, and people to people link between the youth of Rwanda and India.

India is considering opening a resident mission in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

“President Kagame welcomed increased private sector investments from India, highlighting progress in business and investment climate, that makes Rwanda a competitive and conducive environment to do business.”