KIGALI – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected in Kigali on Tuesday this week on an official visit which is expected to further foster ties between the two nations.
Sisi’s two-day visit to Rwanda is part of a four-African state tour which also includes Tanzania, Chad, and Gabon. According to a statement by Egypt’s Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Qabil, President Sisi’s visit to Tanzania, Rwanda, Chad, and Gabon is aimed at strengthening ties between Egypt and Africa politically and economically.
According to the statement, among the aspects that are likely to feature in his deliberations with officials include potential trade ties including formulating a free trade area.
Dr Namira Negm, the Ambassador of Egypt to Rwanda is quoted in Egyptian media saying that the visit to Rwanda and the region will see Egypt clarify the country’s situation on various issues as well as consolidate political and economic relations.
Among others, Egypt and Rwanda are part of the Nile Basin Initiative, a body that brings together countries that utilize waters of River Nile.
“The tour aims mainly at clarifying Egypt’s situation on the outstanding issues; consolidate political and economic relations as well as discuss ways of handling challenges facing Africa especially terrorism,” Negm is quoted as saying.
Efforts by The New Times to contact her were futile by press time.
Ties between Rwanda and Egypt have blossomed in recent years with both countries running diplomatic missions in the two respective capitals.
In 2015, Rwanda appointed the first ambassador resident in Egyptian capital Cairo, the former mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Saleh Habimana.
The two countries share ties across several sectors including trade, healthcare, military training among others.
As of 2015, statistics show that Rwanda earned about $30million (Rwf22 billion) in exports to Egypt annually while Egypt made about $64millon (Rwf46 billion) from exports to Rwanda.
Experts say that Rwanda’s earnings from exports to Egypt are likely to rise in the coming days following the latter’s pledge to continue supporting trade ties and with the growth of Made-in-Rwanda campaign.
Every year, the Egypt and Middle East expo is organized in Rwanda during which products made in Egypt are showcased and it is also seen as a gateway for Egyptian investors in the Rwandan market.
Egyptian government officials including the envoy have previously said that Rwanda is on the list of top priorities for Egyptian investors.
Egyptian traders host regular exhibitions and trade fairs in the country, an avenue which has seen a significant growth in the country’s products in the local market.
Both Rwanda and Egypt belong to the Common Market and Southern Africa (COMESA) trade bloc.
Prosecutor Generals of the two countries early this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral cooperation in combating crime.
The accord was a commitment to work together towards a common goal of fighting and prosecuting crime in all its forms including extraditing or bringing to justice hundreds of Rwandan Genocide suspects still at large.
Among the key elements of the deal is promoting cooperation in the fight against transnational crimes which include organised crime, terrorism, corruption, human trafficking, drugs, narcotics, psychotropic substances, economic crimes, and illicit trafficking of cultural properties.
Rwanda and Egypt are both members of the Nile Basin Initiative which groups 10 countries: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The basin of Africa’s longest river serves a population estimated at some 300 million people.
An accord on the waters of the Nile signed in 1929 gave Egypt exclusive use and surveillance of the river whose source is said to be in the high mountains of Southern Rwanda.