Rwanda has been achieving a remarkable economic growth and now it is also called “Africa’s Singapore.” The country has joined the Commonwealth in 2009 and English is one of the official languages. Some name the seven percent annual economic growth in recent years as the “miracle of Africa”, says Takayuki Miyashita, Japanese Ambassador to Rwanda.
European Times: How would you evaluate the bilateral relations?
Takayuki Miyashita: Since the opening of the Embassy in 2010 until today, the ties between Rwanda and Japan have developed very rapidly, as the Rwandan government provides an excellent base for cooperation. The Annual Bilateral Policy Dialogue, held since 2004, is dedicated to discussing the economic cooperation between our two countries and to aligning the course of this collaboration with the Rwandan development goals of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), as well as Rwanda’s “Vision 2020” mega-strategy.
As for Japan Africa relations, the TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) VI was held in Nairobi in August 2016. High level officials from all African countries, including 30 heads of states, participated in this conference. During this conference, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe committed to empower 10 million African people, including vocational training for 50 000 African youth over the next three years, as well as investment of US$30 billion for infrastructure projects in Africa, together with the Japanese private sector. I hope Rwanda will also benefit from the outcome of the conference.
European Times: What is the current status regarding economic cooperation?
Takayuki Miyashita: Since its establishment in 2005, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Rwanda Office has been promoting economic cooperation in several fields including agriculture, education, water and infrastructure. Around 40 JICA volunteers are vigorously engaged in different development activities across the country. Japan delivers assistance to Rwanda through technical cooperation and grant support.
There is growing interest across different sectors for investors in Rwanda, and the main areas where Japanese companies are actively involved are water (irrigation), infrastructure, ICT and agriculture. Currently there are 26 Rwandan post graduate students in Japan acquiring higher education and internships in the Japanese companies, mainly the energy, ICT and agricultural sector. That is a good development model and one of the ways to attract more Japanese investors to Rwanda.
European Times: Which challenges and opportunities for the country’s further development lay ahead?
Takayuki Miyashita: Rwanda is a land-locked country and it is very important to improve its transport network in and out of Rwanda. It is also important to develop more value-added products by promoting the manufacturing industry. In addition, the ICT sector is one of the priority sectors for its nation building. I think the opportunities for potential investors lay primarily in these fields.