India - Rwanda Relations
Since its independence from Belgium in July, 1962, Rwanda was plagued by a protracted and internecine conflict between two dominant groups viz. Hutu& Tutsi. After several failed efforts, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the then Government of Rwanda signed the Arusha Peace Accord in 1993. But with the assassination of the Hutu President of Rwanda in April 1994, Rwanda once again plunged into violence in which an estimated 1 million people died. After the end of the civil war, Rwanda is moving steadily on the path of recovery and national reconciliation.
Bilateral relations between India and Rwanda have been cordial and have grown steadily over the years. In 1999, Rwanda officially opened its Mission in New Delhi and appointed its first resident Ambassador in New Delhi in 2001. (Rwanda opted to become a member of the Commonwealth in 2009 even though it had not been a British protectorate or a British colony). India has opened its resident Mission in Kigali with the arrival of High commissioner on 15th August, 2018.The country became a full member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Free Trade Area (FTA) in 2004 and subsequently in 2007 it was admitted to the EAC.
High Level Visits from India
i. MoU on Defence Co-operation.
ii. Bilateral Trade Agreement.
iii. MoU on Dairy Co-operation.
iv. MoU on leather cooperation.
v. MoU on Cultural Exchange.
vi. Amendment to the MoU on Cooperation in Agriculture and Animal Resources.
vii. LoC agreement of US$ 100 million for development of Industrial Parks and expansion of Kigali SEZ.
viii. LoC agreement of US $ 100 million for financing components of its Agriculture Project Schemes.
During the Visit, Hon’ble Prime Minister also made the following announcements:
High level visits from Rwanda
In January 2017, President Kagame visited India to participate in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. He also met Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Summit. President Kagame visited Delhi from 9-12 March, 2018 to participate in the founding Conference of International Solar Alliance.
India’s engagement with Rwanda is at three levels viz. at the African Union (AU) level, at level of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and at the bilateral level. India’s engagement with Rwanda has been consultative, response-based and focused on developing Rwandan capacities and human capital. Indian assistance to Rwanda has also been guided by the announcements made by India at the India-Africa Forum Summits in 2008, 2011, and 2015.
Following the first India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-I), Rwanda was nominated by the AU as one of the recipients to host the India-Africa Vocational Training Centre (VTC). Shri Kalraj Mishra, the Hon’ble Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises visited Kigali in January 2015 to inaugurate the Vocational Training Institute.
During IAFS-II, India announced establishment of several institutions in Africa. As part of its initiatives under IAFS-II, India is in the process of establishing the India-Africa Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IAEDC) in Rwanda. While recognizing that entrepreneurship is one of the most important factors in the development of a country’s economy and an antidote to unemployment, the centre will be committed to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship in the country through education, training and business advisory services. At IAFS-II, India also offered, among other things, eight Agricultural Seed Production-cumDemonstration Centre, one each for the 8 RECs. The EAC has decided to locate one centre in Rwanda. The centre is a testimony to India’s effort to help the region achieve food security. Another institute is a Food Testing Laboratory (FTL) which India is setting-up in Rwanda as per announcements made under IAFS-II. ICRISAT, the Indian implementing agency and Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) are working towards establishment of the institute.
Other development cooperation
Kigali is increasingly being viewed by the Indian organizations/institutions as a place to host/organize conferences. In July 2019, Indian think tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) organized the Kigali Global Dialogue in Kigali. In August, 2019, Telecom Equipments and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) organized the India-Africa ICT Expo 2019 in collaboration with the Government of Rwanda in Kigali.
Scholarships and capacity building programmes
The Government of India offers scholarships and fellowships to Rwandans from the Government and private sector to enable them to pursue under-graduate, post-graduate and research courses in India. Training courses in highly specialised areas are also conducted for officers of public institutions. Under ITEC/SCAAP 17training slots are allotted to Rwanda during 2018-19.Under ICCR, 13 scholarship slots were allotted to Rwanda during 2018-19. In addition, under IAFS also training slots are offered to Rwanda.Officers from the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) have also been availing of training slots in India.
A MoU on Cooperation in Forensic Sciences was signed between the Government of Rwanda and Gujarat Forensic Sciences University in January 2017. Under the MoU signed, several Rwandan officials have undergone training in the field of Forensic Science.
Commercial Relations and Bilateral Trade
The volume of bilateral trade is small with India’s exports to Rwanda during 2017-18 being US $ 90.6 million whereas India’s imports from Rwanda stood at US$ 5.34 million for the same period. Major items of India’s exports to Rwanda include electrical and mechanical machinery, pharmaceuticals and vehicles. Major imports from Rwanda include Metallic Articles (Aluminum, Lead and Copper), Precious, Semi Precious Stones, Tea and Coffee.
There are approximately 3000 Indian nationals and PIOs in Rwanda. Rwanda’s only sugar refinery, its only modern textile mill as well as a soap and cosmetic factory are PIO-owned. Investments from India are in tea sector by Assam’s Luxmi Tea, a Kolkata based company. TVS motorbikes are quite popular in Rwanda. Airtel Rwanda is one of the major players in telecom sector in Rwanda. Sahasra Lighting is also a key player in supply of LED lighting and solar panels. The Government of Rwanda has a positive attitude towards the Indian community. During the genocide of 1994, no Indian national was killed or injured. The evacuation of Indian nationals by the Indian Government from Rwanda to Bujumbura and Nairobi was also not interfered with by RPF or the Government forces. The positive role that the Indian community plays in the Rwandan economy is well appreciated by the Rwandan Government.
*******September 23, 2019