Kigali: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday arrived in Rwanda on the first leg of his three-nation Africa tour, becoming the first Indian premier to visit the East African country. The prime minister’s aircraft landed at the Kigali International Airport, where he was given a red carpet welcome in the evening.
His two-day state visit to Rwanda — one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies — assumes significance as this is the first by an Indian premier. Prime Minister Modi will hold bilateral meetings with President Paul Kagame, delegation-level talks and meetings with the business and Indian communities, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said. He will also visit the Genocide Memorial and participate in an event on “Girinka” (one cow per family), a national social protection scheme of Rwanda initiated by Kagame.
A defence cooperation agreement is also expected to be signed between India and Rwanda during the visit, TS Tirumurti, secretary (economic relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, had said in New Delhi last week. India will also be opening a mission in Rwanda very soon, he had added.
“During this visit, we expect to conclude two lines of credit — one of $100 million for development of industrial parks and Kigali special economic zone and another one for $100 million for agriculture and irrigation,” he had said.
An important element of the programme would be Modi’s visit to Rweru Model Village, where he will gift 200 cows as a contribution from India to the ‘Girinka’ scheme of Rwanda, Tirumurti said.
Under “Girinka”, a social protection scheme of the Rwandan government, personally overseen by President Kagame, the poorest families are gifted dairy cows by the government, and the first female calf born to the cow is gifted to the neighbour, thus promoting brotherhood and solidarity.
The cows to be gifted by India will be sourced from Rawanda. “We expect agreements to be concluded in the areas of defence, dairy cooperation, leather, agriculture, and culture,” he said.
Modi’s visit comes days after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Rwanda. Modi will head to Uganda on Tuesday for a two-day visit, the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister since 1997.
The prime minister’s visit to Rwanda is a historic one since it will be the first visit by an Indian prime minister to the East African country, a senior external affairs ministry official said in New Delhi. “Rwanda is an important gateway to Eastern Africa, and we have elevated our bilateral relations with Rwanda to the level of a strategic partnership in January 2017,” he said.
The President of Rwanda is the current chair of the African Union.
Modi will attend the 10th edition of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in South Africa, during which the grouping’s leaders are expected to deliberate on global hot-spot issues, international peace and security, global governance and trade issues among others.