Why new Rwanda and Turkey deals matter
Cooperation agreements between Rwanda and Turkey lay ground for a promising trajectory towards needed development across various sectors, according to diplomacy experts.
Rwanda and Turkey on Thursday, January 12 signed three new cooperation agreements in areas of general cooperation, culture, as well as science, technology and innovation.
At the signing ceremony, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his Rwandan counterpart Dr. Vincent Biruta pointed out that this is yet another step in strengthening bilateral ties between their countries.
Overall, about 24 cooperation agreements have so far been signed, according to Biruta. They cover sectors including trade and investment, education, defense and security, visa exemption, as well as culture and diplomacy.
Charles Murigande, former Rwandan ambassador to Japan, said that the signing of such agreements means that Rwanda is seen as a trustworthy and reliable partner because a country first assesses what has been achieved from the existing partnership that Rwanda has with other countries and decides to take a step forward to making a deal.
“These agreements are creating a favourable ground for us to acquire what we need to fast track our development. Be it in terms of knowledge transfer or the very much needed technology,” he said.
Murigande noted that it is important for local players and the government to have a common ground of engagement to understand the content of the agreements so as to make the most of every framework in place.
Joy Murekatete, an exporter of flowers to Europe, said trade is easy and safe among countries with cooperation agreements in terms of transportation and product pricing.
“This increases our sales because the Rwandan market is different from Europe. The market there is huge and demand is high as they value flowers compared to Africans. If there is an agreement between two countries, one is also confident in the friendship ground created.”
According to available data, Rwanda’s exports to Turkey have increased from $31 million in 2019 to $178 million in 2022.
Çavuşoğlu noted that the annual business forum between both countries organised by the private sector is a major driver of increased trade volumes and Turkish companies are very much interested in infrastructure projects in Rwanda.
“The current level we have reached in trade is not satisfactory. Yes, five times increase in three years but the potential is huge and we should set new targets by $1 billion trade for the future,” he said.
Biruta said that Rwanda will sign a host country agreement for the Turkish Maarif Foundation which will invest in TVET training in the country. The Foundation serves as a gateway to the international educational arena of Turkey.
Turkish firms have been part of the construction of different projects such as the Kigali Convention Centre, BK Arena, the ongoing renovation of Amahoro Stadium, as well as the construction of three luxury resort hotels.
During his working visit in Rwanda, Çavuşoğlu visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial to pay tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. He also met with President Paul Kagame to discuss further ways to strengthen existing partnerships between both countries.
While in Kigali, in June 2022, Ferit Şahenk, one of the richest people in Turkey, promised that his multinational’s operations will “do something very good for the country.” The Chairperson of the Doğuş Group was speaking during a panel discussion on investing in Rwanda at the Commonwealth Business Forum.
His Doğuş Group is one of the largest private-sector conglomerates in Turkey. In October 2021, officials from the Doğuş Construction Group were in Kigali and agreed on a framework of a partnership to accelerate infrastructure development in Rwanda.
Doğuş Construction – a world-class leader in the construction sector – committed to establishing a regional office in Rwanda and bringing on board the teams to assess all necessary technical aspects of the projects in the various sectors as a move to fast track the implementation process.