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Rwanda and Tanzanian ministers of foreign affairs on Thursday, October 28, signed an MoU on Defence Cooperation at the end of the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) meeting held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania this week.

Rwanda's envoy in Tanzania, Maj Gen Charles Karamba, told The New Times that the Ministerial session was co-chaired by both countries' Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Dr Vincent Biruta and Liberata Mulamula, respectively of Rwanda and Tanzania.

“The meeting has approved the permanent secretaries’ report and signed it. Both ministers have signed an MoU on Defence Cooperation,” the envoy said.

The fifteenth session of the Rwanda-Tanzania JPC, at technical level, kicked off on Monday with officials from both ends looking to follow up on directives by the two countries’ leaders’ in August, and work towards enhancing ties in various fields.

Presidents Paul Kagame and Samia Suluhu Hassan met in Kigali in August, held bilateral discussions, and signed four bilateral agreements in areas of ICT, cooperation in areas of immigration, in education, and an agreement on cooperation in areas of regulation of medical products.

The two leaders visited different factories at the Kigali Special Economic Zone, among others. Members of the private sector saw President Suluhu's two-day State visit as an opportunity for both countries to make the thriving business between the two countries even better.

SGR funding

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Rwanda and Tanzania ministers held regular meetings as they looked to fast-track the implementation of the two countries' Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project which is meant to, in future, facilitate transport and trade along the Central Corridor route linking Tanzania to Rwanda and Burundi as well as the DR Congo.

From the Dar meeting, the latest development is that Rwanda will host a meeting next week where Tanzania and DR Congo are invited to discuss joint funding mobilization strategies for the railway project.

“The Ministers agreed that next week a meeting be held in Kigali for Tanzania and Rwanda Ministers of Infrastructure and Finance to study the mode of funding of the Standard Gauge Railway project, among other decisions,” Karamba said.

The 521-kilometre Isaka-Kigali section of the SGR project is what Rwandans are so eager to see happen.

By December 2018, Rwanda and Tanzania were weighing up the option of extending the proposed joint standard gauge railway to Rubavu at the border with DR Congo, a neighbour that is increasingly becoming a strategic trading partner for both Rwanda and Tanzania.

The Isaka-Kigali section of the railway alone was earlier estimated to cost $2.5 billon and officials know that extending it to Rubavu means stretching it by an extra more than 140 kilometre, and thus calls for more funding.

The Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam handles more than 85 percent of the cargo destined or transiting through Rwanda. - James Karuhanga, The New Times

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