Rwanda and Angola on Friday signed nine different agreements at the First Session of the Joint Permanent Commission on cooperation (JPCC), which will see the two countries cooperate in different sectors including health, energy, education, infrastructure, tourism and justice, among other areas.
The first sitting of the commission convened in Kigali while the second session is scheduled for Luanda in 2024 as the two countries look to strengthen the already existing ties between now and then.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta and the Minister of External Relations, Amb. Antonio Tete, who led the delegations from either side, said after the meeting that the agreements signed will benefit the citizens of the two countries.
The two officials said that Rwanda and Angola already had memorandums of understanding for cooperation in the sector of health, justice, agriculture and health but under the new partnership, new areas of cooperation will include infrastructure, tourism, finance, education, vocational training, defence and security, among others.
The agreements signed on Friday include the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, Extradition agreement as well as agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance, Transfer of Convicted Persons, cooperation in the field of Agriculture and livestock, local administration and health, oil and gas.
Similarly, a cooperation agreement was signed between Angola’s National School of Administration and Public Policies (ENAPP) and the Rwanda Management Institute ((RMI).
Dr. Biruta said that the first session of the JPCC marked a significant milestone in the existing bilateral relations between the nations, pointing out that Rwanda already enjoyed valuable and strategic ties with the Southern African country.
“Our partnership is based on strong political will and commitment at the highest level to maintain, strengthen and widen our cooperation in various fields such as infrastructure, energy, agriculture, trade and investment Justice,” Dr. Biruta said, adding that the new agreements come to build on the already existing progress.
To move forward, Dr. Biruta said the two countries will have result-oriented action plans and set realistic time frames as well as efficient monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the people of the two countries fully benefit from the cooperation.
“The Government of Rwanda is committed to cementing bilateral cooperation with the Government of Angola as well as working together in addressing regional coordinator and global challenges that affect our countries,”
“The Covid-19 pandemic had negative impacts in our countries’ economies and other social aspects and collaboration among African nations is more important now than ever, if we are to regain and sustain economic growth and achieve Africa’s self-reliance,” he added.
Tapping into the AfCFTA
Dr. Biruta said the two countries share common strategic interests, including contribution to peace security and stability in Africa and the renewed cooperation will present an opportunity for the two countries to tap into the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Minister Biruta commended the mediation efforts undertaken by Angola to bring peace in the Central African Republic (CAR) as well as the country’s contribution towards the normalization of diplomatic relations between Rwanda and Uganda.
On his part, Amb. Tete said he was delighted to be in Rwanda with his delegation, which was not only an opportunity of exploring ways of strengthening the already existing ties, but also a chance to join Rwandans in solidarity as they marked the 28th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The Angolan Minister said that the Genocide was one of the darkest periods on the African continent and countries have a duty of monitoring and ensuring that what happen in Rwanda does not happen anywhere in the world again.
Amb. Tete said that in May 2014, Rwanda and Angola established a framework agreement on economic, technical, scientific and cultural cooperation, and agreement of the establishment of bilateral cooperation, among other areas.
“The JPCC takes place at the particular moment when we wish to write a new golden page in our bilateral relations,”
“There is indeed a renewed, mutual desire for the strengthening and broadening of cooperation in the domain of common interest taking into account the potentialities of both countries in the political and diplomatic fields, trade and industry health, justice agriculture and fisheries, economy, finance cultural tourism, to name a few,” Minister Tete aid.
He pointed out that with the leadership of the two Heads of States of the two countries, Angola and Rwanda will work together to explore opportunities to rebuild back and stronger as the economies of both nations look to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic.
He urged the technical teams to fast-track the implementation and monitoring mechanisms so that the goals of the agreement are reached, adding that a mid-term review will be done to assess the progress ahead of the Luanda meeting in two-years’ time.
At the end of the session, Dr. Biruta said that the cooperation agreements signed are not just for the governments of the two countries, but they directly benefit the citizens of the two countries.
Among other things, he stated that at the first meeting the two countries agreed to scrap visa requirements for citizens of both countries carrying diplomatic or ordinary passports, travelling either side, to ease movement between Rwanda and Angola while the double taxation avoidance agreements will also boost trade.
Amb. Tete reiterated that the move will ease and facilitate movement of people and goods between the two countries, opening up trade and investment opportunities in both countries, to the benefit of the combined population of the nearly 46 million people in both countries.