The key areas of collaboration for India and Rwanda are agriculture, information and communication technology, healthcare and tourism.
In recent years, bilateral relations between India and Rwanda have grown steadily. In 1999, Rwanda opened its first mission in New Delhi and in 2001, the nation sent it first resident Ambassador to India. Since then a series of high-level visits from India and Rwanda have taken place. However, the most significant development in India-Rwanda relations is certainly marked by the Indian Prime Minister’s visit last year; with this event, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to ever visit Rwanda. During his trip, he announced US$ 200 million in aid and 200 cows to the families of genocide survivors. One of the most positive outcomes of his visit was the opening up of a full-fledged Indian Mission in Kigali. The Indian Mission in Kigali is likely to play an important role in facilitating trade and investment links between the two countries which is currently very small.
Although the volume of bilateral trade is small, Indian companies have made inroads into the Rwandan market in areas like infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT), agriculture, healthcare and education. Given that Rwanda is seen as a good country for investment, especially when compared to other African countries, there is substantial scope for more trade. The country is often noted for its good governance, political will, zero tolerance for corruption, and ease of doing business; for instance, it takes only a few hours to register a business in Rwanda. In fact, investors do not even need to visit the country for the necessary registration formalities because businesses can be registered online. Moreover, safety and security in the country is second to none, making Rwanda the preferred investment destination in Africa.
The key areas where India and Rwanda can collaborate are agriculture, information and communication technology, healthcare, and tourism. Since Rwanda is primairly an agricultural country, opportunities for Indian companies are immense. Jain Irrigation -- India’s largest micro irrigation company -- is already executing a number of projects in Rwanda, and has selected Rwanda as its hub in Africa. In the case of ICT, Indian companies can play a major role in Rwanda, sine they already have an edge over other nations in this sector. Moreover, many engineers are already working with the Rwandan government and the private sector. Several Rwandan students also come to India to study at Indian universities and a number of Indian professors teach in Rwandan universities. In addition to agriculture and ICT, the healthcare sector offers many opportunities for collaboration. India’s ability to provide provide excellent medical facilities at affordable prices can also be capitalized upon: Some of India’s best super-speciality hospital chains like Apollo and Fortis are already providing medical services to Rwandan patients, but there is considerable scope for scaling up. Furthermore, small teams of Indian specialists visit Rwanda regularly to conduct medical camps which offer consultations and medical advice at affordable prices. Young Rwandans also come to India for medical training, but again, there is scope to seriously scale this opportunity.
Finally, while Rwanda is known as ‘the land of a thousand hills,’ tourism is underdeveloped, although it provides the highest source of foreign exchange in the country. One of the main reasons for visiting the country is its incredibly rich wildlife: Rwanda is home to the famous mountain gorilla, which is now an endangered species.
Rwanda has benefitted from the number of Indian tourists to the country, which is steadily growing. Visiting the country has become easier for Indians with RwandAir offering direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai four times a week. Visas are also easily available on arrival at the Kigali International airport for Indian citizens and the number of quality hotels has also increased sharply in Kigali in recent years. However, currently, not many in Indians think of Rwanda as an attractive tourist destination
In order to increase the flow of Indian tourists to Rwanda, tour operators in Rwanda need to offer special affordable packages for Indian families. For example, the customised mountain gorilla trekking tours in Rwanda are a one-of-a-kind experience, but the cost of such trips may be prohibitive for the majority of Indian families since the Rwandan Development Board has recently doubled the cost of a single permit from US$ 750 to US$ 1500. On the other hand, for Rwandans, India remains a good option for medical tourism. In a nutshell, if the two countries worked out a system of exchange, a long-term, symbiotic relationship could be formed between them.
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Clarence Fernandes is currently the Chairman of Rwanda Renaissance. He is a marketing and PR Professional with over four decades of industry experience. He was ...Read More +