Rwandan President Kagame Monday travelled to Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, for a three-day state visit to strengthen bilateral relations with the oil-rich nation.
Presidents Kagame and Denis Sassou N’Guesso of Congo Brazzaville are expected to hold a tête-à-tête meeting followed by a bilateral meeting alongside their delegations.
On Monday evening, President Kagame addressed a joint session of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies that make up the Congolese Congress, and later attended a presidential banquet with his counterpart.
In his address, President Kagame address reflected on both countries’ cooperation and aspirations in trade, security, partnership, and Covid-19 vaccination goals.
Kagame said that the youth should be considered at the forefront.
“Our joint efforts should continue to provide opportunities for young Africans, who are Africa’s biggest and most valuable resource, to enable our youth to utilize and benefit from their energies and talents,” he said.
“We cannot take pride in saying the right things, for decades, and then find ourselves many years from now, having said the right things but not actually achieved much,” he said.
President Kagame also touched on Rwanda’s efforts to promote and keep peace on the African continent and commended President Denis Sassou N’Guesso’s role as the Chairperson of the African Union high level Committee on Libya.
“Rwanda continues to be active in United Nation’s peacekeeping missions with over 5000 troops currently serving in the Central African Republic and South Sudan…In our Great Lakes Region, persistent fight against armed groups particularly in eastern DRC requires close and persistent regional collaboration,” Kagame added.
After visiting Brazzaville, both Presidents will head to Oyo, in the Cuvette region.
The representatives from both delegations will sign agreements in areas of cooperation on areas such as political and economic cooperation as well as trade, according to a communique by President Kagame’s office.
“This visit denotes, once again, the deep friendship between the two Heads of State and mainly the commendable quality of cooperation between Congo and Rwanda,” read the statement by President Kagame’s office.
The last time Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville held discussions was 12 years ago when President Sassou N’Guesso invited President Kagame to talks about Rwandan refugees who had been living in the country for 16 years at the time.
The Congolese government had requested that Rwandan refugees return home because there was peace in Rwanda.
This was before Rwanda scrapped the refugee status for citizens living abroad in 2018.
Weeks after President Kagame’s visit, the national carrier, RwandAir, began flights to Brazzaville.
According to UN data, by the 2000s, Congo-Brazzaville hosted 5,000 Rwandan refugees who fled after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
During the visit, both presidents also signed agreements on bolstering economic ties through increasing trade and commerce and increasing political cooperation.
At the time, President Kagame also addressed a joint session of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Kagame had visited Congo-Brazzaville before in 2004 during the country’s independence ceremony.
Throughout the years, Rwanda and Congo-Brazzaville have enjoyed bilateral cooperation in trade.
In 2016, Rwanda’s private sector held a seven-day trade exhibition in Pointe-Noire, the second largest and commercial capital of the Republic of Congo, in an effort to promote locally made products in other African countries.
The government gave $150,000 as support for 30 traders who were exhibiting goods in a bid to access the 5.5 million population market.
In 2011, President Sassou N’Guesso paid a three-day visit to Kigali at the invitation of President Kagame.
Last year in November, delegations from both countries convened in Kigali and signed agreements that would remove double taxation and visa requirements to ease trade between both countries. They also signed agreements around military, education, and land management. - Ange Iliza, The EastAfrican