India, Rwanda sign aviation, visa deals

Wed 22 Feb 2017

Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Rwandan PM Anastase Murekezi during a meeting in Kigali on Monday.PTIPTI  

India and Rwanda have concluded a bilateral air services agreement enabling direct flights between the two countries. This is among the three Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) concluded between the two countries during Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to Rwanda. It was, in the words of Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Amar Sinha, a visit from which India too learnt a lot.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi and Mr. Ansari witnessed the signing of the MoU by Mr. Sinha and Dr. Alexis Nzahabwanimana, Minister of State for Transport in the Rwandan government. “With direct flights between the two countries, we expect our exchanges to be more fruitful,” said Mr. Murekezi.

Rwandan Airways is to begin direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai in April.

The other two MoUs pertained to the setting up of an entrepreneurial development centre in Rwanda and exemption of visa for entry of diplomatic and official passports.

The agreements were signed in the presence of a large business delegation from India at the newly constituted India-Rwanda Business Forum organised by FICCI and the Rwandan government.

Briefing the media at the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Sinha said while there was much to discuss what the Rwandan government wanted from India — including the desire of many pharmaceutical companies to open shop in the country and to have Bollywood films shoot in Kigali — Vice-President Ansari too had several questions on the many Rwandan initiatives.

“The Rwandan government wants to encourage tourism. With the air services agreement that should happen. But they also want Bollywood films to shoot here, because they have noticed how tourism to New Zealand picked up after Bollywood started shooting films there,” said Mr. Sinha.

He said Mr. Ansari had many questions about President Paul Kagame’s governance model that had helped Rwanda to become one of the cleanest, most well-run states in the region.

“It’s a visit where we too had a lot to learn... the reconciliation of various groups, to be conscious of a colonial policy of divide and rule and to try and overcome it, and how they are overcoming ethnic majoritiarianism by concentrating on a shared linguistic and cultural heritage.”


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