Remarks by His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Sharm el Sheikh, Sunday 8th November 2009.

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

  • His Excellency, Hosni Mubarak, President of the       Arab Republic of Egypt;
  • His Excellency, Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China;
  • Excellencies, Heads of State and Government here-present;
  • Honourable Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission;
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:

I start by thanking HE Hosni Mubarak, the government and people of the Arab Republic of Egypt for their very warm hospitality and good organization of this meeting.

Today’s important meeting allows us to reflect together on the tremendous opportunity for trade and economic development and more, presented by the growing, strategic partnership between Africa and China.

In Rwanda and the East Africa region, we already see the impact of this collaboration, which has experienced a considerable boost since the last China-Africa summit in Beijing three years ago.

Trade between East African countries and China has grown by over two hundred percent from 2007 to the present – in Rwanda alone, business with China has quadrupled in the last four years.

It is in this decidedly positive context that we participate in the FOCAC’s fourth session, marking another important milestone in this Africa-China relationship.

Permit me to offer two broad observations on how China, Africa – East Africa and Rwanda in particular – can meaningfully advance this cooperation for maximum shared benefit.

First of all, the onus is on us as leaders, governments, and the private sector especially, to fully engage at every stage, and clearly articulate our development priorities in this partnership.

We have, here, an invaluable opportunity not only to further pursue trade relations that can transform the lives of millions – but also to redefine the way we do business for sustainable wealth creation on both sides of the transaction.

Secondly, I am happy to note that advancing regional integration benefits Africa as well as its Chinese partners, given the size of the combined  markets, growth and attractive economic returns, for example in East Africa and other regional economic communities.

To harness the vast regional potential for commerce and investment, we have identified modern infrastructure projects to connect East Africa via road, rail and the internet among others. Partnership is key to advancing on this front.

Rwanda is pursuing rapid development of this sector, in recognition of our location within the region.
Projects such as the railway line connecting the port of Dar es Salaam to Rwanda, Burundi and DRC offers a strong and credible platform for collaboration between China and East African region within the FOCAC framework.

In this respect, the importance of the China-Africa Infrastructure Development Fund – and some of the initiatives that have commenced under this facility cannot be over-emphasized.

Similarly, we are very pleased about the partnership between China’s EXIM Bank, the China Development Bank, and the African Development Bank in terms of financing infrastructure projects in our region – and support their continued collaboration.

Agricultural transformation is evidently fundamental to creating prosperity in the sector where majority of our people earn their livelihood.

This means modernizing farming techniques; planting drought resistant crop varieties that adapt to effects of climate change; and using affordable technologies that are easily transferable to rural communities.

The lessons, expertise and relevant technologies from China would form an essential framework for cooperation in this regard.

We salute China’s considerable efforts to meet its ambitious commitments from FOCAC II and III in the area of capacity development, because a strong human resource base is  crucial for Africa to fully own and lead its development process.

Finally, let me propose that East Africa works with China to develop and deploy appropriate technologies to address current climate change challenges, given China’s demonstrated progress in this field.

  • Excellencies;
  • Esteemed Participants:

East Africa, and Rwanda in particular, stands ready to build on the prevailing momentum for the mutual benefit of our people and the people of China.

We appreciate this occasion to exchange ideas on how to take this important partnership forward.
I thank you for your kind attention.