Tanzania-Kigali bolster trade

TANZANIA and Rwanda have agreed to improve trade relations by enhancing the business and investment environment through an effective utilisation of the available resources.

This was unveiled on Thursday by President Samia Suluhu Hassan during a joint press briefing shortly after she held official talks with her Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

She said the two countries have great potentials of trade that are not yet utilised accordingly.

Dr Samia also briefed President Kagame of the government’s on-going initiatives to improve infrastructures at the ports of Dar e Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara as well as the communication sector.

“We have discussed a number of issues of cooperation between our two countries, including some of those that are still incomplete, and we shall work on them in a short time,” the President said, noting that each part will work on issues that have remained pending whereas the technical teams from both parts will meet for finalisation.

The two leaders also discussed the importance of completing the Rusumo Hydropower project for greater benefits of both countries.

“We have discussed the importance of this project, and once completed, we shall launch it together,” said Dr Samia, noting that the visit by President Kagame has provided an opportunity for the two countries to assess all issues of cooperation.

The two presidents also discussed defence and security, where they agreed to enhance security.

“We have also instructed the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) of the two countries to work on all issues that remained pending for proper finalisation,” she explained.

For his part, President Kagame who arrived in the country for a two-day state visit expressed commitment to building on the two countries strong economic, cultural and historical ties.

He pointed out that Rwanda and Tanzania bonds of friendship and cooperation were deeply rooted in a common aspiration to improve the lives of their citizens.

According to him, Africa’s entrepreneurial youths give the countries a comparative advantage, therefore, as leaders they need to create an enabling environment for them to thrive.

“Tanzania is a very key partner for Rwanda particularly with respect to trade, logistics and connectivity and this characterised our discussion in the previous meeting,” said President Kagame.

He acknowledged Tanzania’s willingness to further strengthen the ties for mutual benefit, enabling the people from both sides to develop faster as well as making room for companies to compete better in the global market.

He expressed gratitude to President Samia for her leadership in finding a lasting solution to the conflicts that are within the region, specifically the one in the Eastern DR Congo, indicating that together with other members of the East African Community (EAC), they are committed to building lasting peace and security of the region.

President Kagame said such efforts require sustained commitment from all the parties including those directly affected or responsible for the underlying problems, stressing that peace and stability are crucial requirements in the development of unified Africa.

Also, President Kagame thanked his counterpart for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation, maintaining that the two leaders during their closed door meeting had a very constructive discussion.

Kagame’s visit to Tanzania comes at a time when both countries share cordial relations in various sectors of cooperation. The ties are strongest in trade and investment with potential in multiple other avenues.

For instance, Tanzania’s exports to Rwanda increased to 277.8 million US dollars in 2021, up from 60.1 million US dollars, while Rwanda’s exports to Tanzania stood at 2.2 million US dollars up from 1.3 million US dollars in the same period.

In August 2021, President Samia visited Rwanda, in a move that aimed at strengthening ties between the two neighbouring countries where she witnessed the signing of different agreements in various sectors for the social and economic growth of both nations.

Rwanda uses the port of Dar es Salaam for much of her inbound and outbound cargo, (over 80 per cent) through what is commonly known as the Central Corridor.

In July last year, Rwanda Minister for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Innovation Paula Ingabire, led a delegation of public and private sector to Tanzania to engage in cooperation in the sector.

Some of Rwanda’s submarine sea cables IT infrastructure is through the port of Dar es Salaam.

The Rwanda Defence Force’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen Jean-Bosco Kazura and Inspector General of Police CGP Dan Munyuza in the same year visited Tanzania, where they held talks with their counterparts.

The meeting ended with a commitment by both countries to cooperate closely on border control and crime prevention, information and intelligence sharing on terrorism and other transnational crimes.

In 2018, the two countries agreed on joint construction of a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Isaka to Kigali, a move which will facilitate movement of goods between the two countries.

Studies conducted by the East African Community (EAC) had shown that the Tanzanian railway route would cost Rwanda between 800 million US dollars and 900 million US dollars.

Popular Tanzanian businesses operating in Rwanda include Azam Group, Bakhresa, Matelas Dodoma, among others, while Rwandan companies like Sulfo Rwanda, and Pharmalab, have set foot in Tanzania.

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