Kigali, 6 October 2012
President Kagame today bade farewell to his Gabonese counterpart President Ali Bongo Ondimba at the end of a two-day working visit to Rwanda during which the two Heads of State highlighted the importance of stronger bilateral cooperation as well as collaboration with other African nations.
Speaking at a joint press conference following official talks, President Kagame noted:
“Rwanda and Gabon are looking forward to expanding our bilateral relations to working together on global issues. Rwanda is ready to invest in a win-win partnership with Gabon and other African nations and I encourage Rwanda businesses to seize the opportunity and explore Gabon for possible business ventures.”
President Bongo Ondimba said: “President Kagame and I are believers in South-South Cooperation and want to partner for the benefit of our people. Gabon’s economy is dependent on oil while Rwanda has diversified. By exchanging what we both don’t have, we will increase our benefits.”
During official talks held earlier today, President Kagame and President Bongo Ondimba discussed accelerating trade links between the two countries, with a focus on exports from Rwanda to Gabon, particularly agro-pastoral products; increased contacts between the Rwanda and Gabon private sectors, particularly in tourism. They also agreed on greater collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board and The Gabonese Agency in Charge of Investment Promotion aimed at boosting key sectors of the economy in both countries.
In response to a question on whether the two Presidents discussed the shift from the use of French to English as the official language as had been reported in the media, both Presidents clarified that this was not part of their meeting agenda and that the issue had been given undue prominence by some media.
President Kagame said:
“Rwanda is both Anglophone and Francophone. We embraced both languages because we want to tap into benefits of both worlds. We are even encouraging our people to learn Chinese or Mandarin in order to diversify the scope of benefits. President Bongo did not come all the way to discuss languages. There are bigger issues like lifting our people out of poverty, bilateral cooperation and matters affecting our continent.”
President Bongo Ondimba was accompanied by First Lady Sylvia Bongo Ondimba who today, together with the Rwanda’s First Lady, Jeannette Kagame today visited Notre Dame de Citeaux, a girls’ secondary school and headquarters of AVEGA, the Rwandan association of genocide widows.
In addition to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Gabonese delegation included the Minister of Communications and the Head of the Gabonese Investment Agency and several senior advisers.