Turkey extends its wings to Kigali

Friday June 03 2016

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu (second left) and Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo (second right) cut the ribbon to officially open the new Turkish embassy in Kigali on May 31. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

Turkey is keen on a wider diplomatic presence in the region after it opened its embassy in Kigali and signed co-operation agreements, ranging from mutual elimination of diplomatic visas, foreign affairs, and education.

“We would like to increase our relations with many African countries and regional economic organisations in the continent,” Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, told journalists on Tuesday.

Rwanda and Turkey have had a number of joint activities in the past, including a security agreement, allowing Rwandan Police officers to attend the Turkish Police Academy.

Turkey also seeks to expand the services of its national carrier, Turkish Airline, which currently flies to 48 destinations on the continent, and Turkish International Co-operation and Development Agency (TIKA) in what officials describe as fostering co-operation with real and reliable partners.

Minister Çavusoglu announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would next visit Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia, where Turkey is expected to open an embassy. President Tayyip Erdogan had earlier visited Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Guinea Conakry.

According to the signed Turkey-Rwanda co-operation agreements, it is expected that the number of scholarships for Rwandan students going to Turkey, particularly in medical and technical fields, would increase.


Besides, Turkey will host and organise special programmes for Rwanda’s diplomats.

Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo described the country’s relationship with Turkey as excellent, and expected to grow.

“We are looking at more opportunities in the areas of, for example textile. We are also looking at training and value addition in medical and engineering fields and many opportunities that we know Turkey offers,” Mushikiwabo said.

Rwanda has recently opened its embassy in Ankara, following the country officials’ diplomatic visits to the Middle East and Asia.

Rwanda remains a large importer of Turkish goods such as pharmaceuticals, cleaning supplies, car parts, clothing and paper products, electric appliances and construction equipment.

Despite the volume of trade between the two countries growing and expected to grow further in the future, there is still an imbalance as Rwanda has little to export to the Asian giant economy.

Figures indicate that Rwanda’s imports from Turkey amounted to $4.8 millions in 2009 and $5.7 million in 2010.

Rwanda is said to be wooing a number of Turkish companies to come and invest into the country.

Kigali’s engagement saw Turkish Airlines and other businesses extend their operations to the country.

Turkish engineering firm Summa, took over the construction of one of the multimillion dollar construction project – The Kigali Convention Centre -- which was previously held by Beijing Construction Engineering Group.