Rwanda and São Tomé and Príncipe have agreed to boost bilateral relations after a delegation of senior Rwandan officials led by the Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo visited the African island nation last weekend.
A statement from the ministry says the delegation that consisted senior officials and technical experts visited São Tomé and Príncipe to discuss a broad range of issues aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
This was confirmed by Mushikiwabo in a subsequent phone interview on Wednesday.
“Rwanda reaching out to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe was a result of extensive discussions between President Kagame and Prime Minister Trovoada during a private visit to Rwanda over the Christmas Holidays,” Mushikiwabo said.
“Among immediate steps of collaboration is RwandAir linking our two capitals in the next few months, joint ventures in agriculture, with special focus on coffee, security collaboration, visa facilitation for our citizens, and common ground on continental matters.”
According to the statement, Rwandan officials and their São Tomé counterparts assessed the current economic and political atmosphere as well as ways to establish the diplomatic, legal, and political framework for cooperation.
They also discussed areas of cooperation, both immediate and long term.
The ministry further says that the two sides observed that there is need for a joint cooperation, investment, and tourism within the region as well as between the two countries.
“They concluded that this will be based on the establishment and functionality of RwandAir’s operations in São Tomé and Príncipe,” reads part of the MINAFFET statement.
Potential joint investment projects identified include the Agropol project in Sao Tome for Coffee production and processing.
In future, the ministry says, Rwanda can consider joint investment in oil and gas exploration.
On issues related to immigration and emigration, the areas proposed for cooperation include sharing of technical expertise on visa policies, border control management, coordination of travel document issuance and visa in Diaspora, use advanced IT Infrastructure such as electronic gates, capacity building (training), and exchange of information.
Mushikiwabo and her counterpart, Urbino Botelho, signed two agreements: one on political and diplomatic consultations and another on expanded cooperation.
The Rwandan delegation also held talks on defense matters with Prime Minister, Patrick Emery Trovoada.
Among others, Prime Minister Trovoada reiterated that looking at Rwanda’s past and present experience, the army can contribute to socio-economic development of a nation.
It was agreed that a delegation from São Tomé and Príncipe also visit Rwanda to identify specific required fields of collaboration before the end of the first trimester of 2017.
São Tomé and Príncipe, one of the smallest economies in Africa, is an archipelago of just over 1,000 square kilometers in the Gulf of Guinea.