Belt and Road Initiative to spur Africa-China economic ties, says Rwandan official

China has become Rwanda's biggest trading partner and project contractor, and one of the major sources of foreign investments.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) would spur trade and investment cooperation between Africa and China after easing connectivity and transportation challenges, a Rwandan legislator said.

In a recent interview in the capital city Kigali, Emmanuel Bugingo, the chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security in the Chamber of Deputies, said the BRI will bridge the infrastructure gap in Rwanda, thereby connecting the country to Africa and the rest of the world.

“For a country like Rwanda, which joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018, and (for) Africa in general, the BRI is a welcome initiative and opportunity that will boost access to the coast by landlocked countries while catalyzing economic development, regional integration and connecting the entire continent,” he told Xinhua.

China and Africa’s economic and trade cooperation over the past decades is well reflected in the agriculture sector. Last year, African agricultural exports to China increased by 18.2 percent year-on-year, according to data revealed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Bugingo said the BRI would increase connectivity, whereby transportation will be more convenient, “resulting in the growth of trade and investment between Africa and China.”

Rwanda appreciates China’s contribution to building infrastructure in Rwanda and Africa in general, he said.

On the cooperation between Rwanda and China, Bugingo said it is based on shared values, mutual respect and common interests, adding that the bilateral ties are likely to flourish further, allowing both countries to “realize common development through win-win cooperation.”

Responding to the question of how future relations between the two countries could play out, Bugingo said, “the Sino-Rwanda relationship is built on a solid foundation of mutual trust.”

“The cooperation between Rwanda and China has great potential and vast prospects. I am confident to assert that the relationship between Rwanda and China will remain steady in the foreseeable future,” he said.

He expressed his hopes for more products from Rwanda entering the Chinese market and collaborative engagement with Chinese enterprises, in the form of direct investment in infrastructure, ICT, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, energy and export-oriented sectors.

Citing roads, hospitals, and hydropower stations constructed in Rwanda with China’s support, Bugingo noted that such infrastructure development has yielded great benefits to the people of Rwanda.

China has become Rwanda’s biggest trading partner and project contractor, and one of the major sources of foreign investments. “Chinese companies have been investing in Rwanda in different sectors. Through different exchanges and areas of cooperation, Rwanda looks forward to building more partnerships and gaining from China’s enormous experience and expertise in many fields,” said Bugingo.

Bugingo also noted that the cooperation between Rwanda and China in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic made bilateral ties even closer and stronger. He also commended China’s approach to partnering with different African countries which he said is “based on mutual respect.”

“This is very interesting because they respond to the expectations of the people rather than imposing something the way some partners may want to do,” he said.

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