India will open its resident mission in Rwanda as it seeks to broaden its outreach to the resource-rich African continent which has witnessed a surge in the Chinese investment in recent years.
“We are great friends (India and Rwanda), and Rwanda has a good population of Indian community here…And, we have had a valid complaint of not having a resident mission in Kigali. So, I must tell you that the government has already taken up the matter and in coming weeks or months, we will have a physical presence of a resident mission here,” Vice President Hamid Ansari said.
Ansari, who is on a five-day visit to Rwanda and Uganda, was addressing a gathering of the Indian community here yesterday at a banquet hosted by a diaspora group in his honour.
Rwanda has about 3,000 people from the Indian community and Ansari said, they are “very purposeful, very entrenched and very well-doing.”
“Our government is working to build ties and give it more content. And, most important segment of that is this community. So, we want to build up and give you a little more support,” he said.
Sources said, the decision to open the mission has reached and advanced stage and a skeletal set up will be ready in few months.
“Both countries have in principle agreed to open the mission here and modalities are being worked out,” the sources said.
Ansari also said that RwandAir will soon begin its operations to India.
Earlier addressing reporters en route to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, Ansari said India is not competing with China or any other country for broadening its outreach to Africa.
“We are development partners in Africa, once they decide what they want to benefit from the Indian expertise then we transform them into concrete projects of assistance. And, our experience so far has been satisfactory,” Ansari said.
“We are not in competition with China or anyone else, as far as our development cooperation with the foreign countries is concerned, particularly in Africa. They have their own style of work, own capacities.”
On India’s role in its development cooperation in Africa, Ansari said, “We don’t try to force them to do anything, we let them decide which areas they wish to cooperate. The areas of expertise we can share, that is our objective. We let them decide what are the areas they would like to cooperate, in education, capacity building.”
A key partner of the African nations in the 1950s and 1960s, India has seen its influence in the region wane. In recent years, it has been trying to regain the ground there.
The trade between Africa and China has grown at a breathtaking pace. It was USD 10.5 billion in 2000, USD 40 billion in 2005 and USD 166 billion in 2011. China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner.
In 2015, India’s trade with Africa was around USD 75 billion.
Asserting the importance of the visit, Ansari said this is part of a “conscious effort” of the Indian government to “intensify” our interaction with the African nations.
“Our President has made visits to three the African countries, the Prime Minister to four and I have visited five times already. And, now Rwanda and Uganda visit is on the same line,” he said.
“India’s ties with the African continent have always been very strong but friendship is something that needs to be reiterated and renewed. It’s a plant that needs to be watered,and no friendship can be taken for granted,” he added.