After Senegal, it is with Rwanda that the Chinese president continues his tour of the African continent this Sunday, July 22, 2018. A two-day visit to meet Paul Kagame, the Rwandan head of state, who is also the president of the African Union. There will be a great deal of investment and infrastructure. The two countries have 46 years of uninterrupted bilateral relations behind them.
When China is accused of being interested in Africa only for its gold and arable land, Rwanda is often presented as the counterexample. However, it was by investing in the agricultural sector that Beijing set foot in the country in 1971. But also, already, in the construction of infrastructure.This Chinese interest in Rwanda has never wavered since then. The People’s Republic of China never broke ties with the Rwandan state, including during the genocide. At the time, Beijing had also been accused of delivering the machetes used in the genocide.Today, in Rwanda, China’s investments and constructions are visible everywhere. From ministries to hospitals, but also from textile and cement factories … Beijing remains the main supplier of goods to Rwanda, this was still true in the first quarter of 2018, which could have made the Rwandan economy dependent on variations in Chinese currency.On the other hand, Rwanda exports little to China. If in 2014, China represented 20% of imports to Rwanda, it represented only less than 5% of Rwandan exports. But according to a World Bank report (2016), these figures remain questionable.The Bretton Woods organization had found that at the time, Kigali declared that it had exported $ 8 million in goods to China, but that over the same period, China posted an amount more than ten times higher for its Rwandan imports: nearly 92 million. Essentially for coltan and tungsten, Rwanda’s main export minerals, noted the report.
“Rwanda has a policy of made in Rwanda to encourage national production – and besides Chinese investments help us since there are industries which are financed by China, for example the textile industries, indicates Olivier Nduhungirehe , the Rwandan Secretary of State for Cooperation. This policy made in Rwanda to rebalance the trade balance is a general policy which is not only aimed at China. And so of course, through these economic exchanges and also through an African policy that tends towards the economic free trade zone, Rwanda and Africa intend to develop and promote trade to reduce our trade deficit. And therefore that Rwanda exports many more products to China is a goal. ”
Chinese President XI Jinping should not have much time to explore the country. It should be confined to Urugwiro Village, the Rwandan presidency. With on the menu, a bilateral meeting, discussions and especially the signing of fifteen contracts and projects, infrastructure, hospital, roads, air transport, electronic commerce, cultural cooperation and science, diplomatic visa.
But Rwanda’s goal is not only economic. The idea is also to bring the two countries closer. “There is also a desire to set up or strengthen people-to-people exchanges, that is to say relations between the Chinese and the Rwandans and this goes of course in cultural strengthening, trips between the two countries… We are talking with our Chinese partners on flights of Rwandans to Guangzhou [Canton, note], we hope from February 2019. So the relations do not stop at the economic partnership, there are also these cultural exchanges between the two peoples, “said the mentioned Olivier Nduhungirehe.