One of the key pillars of China-Africa Cooperation is investment, where China continues to invest strategically in areas that spur socio-economic development.
The past decade has seen impressive growth of trade and investment abroad by China, including with Rwanda which has benefited from China-funded and -built infrastructure and projects which have contributed greatly to national development.
Since Rwanda and China established bilateral relations on Nov 12, 1971, the two countries have strengthened cooperation in various fields, particularly in the area of investment where China is one of Rwanda’s largest contributors of foreign direct investment.
Among other areas, Chinese investments are more visible in infrastructure, trade, manufacturing, textiles, hospitality industry and real estate.
Over the years, China has been involved in investment of infrastructure projects, especially roads in the capital Kigali in the countryside where China Road and Bridge Corporation continues to be one of the leading developers in Rwanda.
In July 2018, when President Xi Jinping made a historic visit to Rwanda, he reiterated the importance of trade and investment between Rwanda and China and the entire Africa, stating that China believes in a win-win cooperation with Africa.
The Belt and Road Initiative projects in Rwanda have created hundreds of jobs and improved people’s well-being in many ways while newly launched Chinese investments in Rwanda such as M Hotel have absorbed more workers.
The cooperation between China and Rwanda is deep and in multiple fields. China is Rwanda’s largest trading partner and largest project contractor, with bilateral trade volume in 2020 reaching $321 million despite the impact of COVID-19.
A large number of China-aided infrastructure facilities have given strong impetus to Rwanda’s economic and social development.
China has invested in the development of Integrated Polytechnic Regional College (IPRC) Musanze, Masaka District Hospital, where China oftens sends medical specialists, hundreds of scholarships to China and many other projects that touch the lives of people.
Regarding infrastructure, China has played a vital role in upgrading roads in Rwanda, including 54km of recently completed, including the 13km Bugesera Airport highway and flyover in Kicukiro district.
Cross-border e-commerce has emerged as a new highlight of practical cooperation between the two countries. Rwanda’s coffee beans are popular on China’s e-commerce platforms, and each kilogram of beans sold in China can bring coffee farmers $4 more than before.
In 2021, Rwanda became the first African country to export dried chili peppers to China, and in the next five years, 50,000 metric tons of dried chili peppers are expected to be exported to China. In addition, more high-quality agricultural products from Rwanda are expected to gain access to China’s vast market.
Investments that touch people’s lives
China’s engagement in Rwanda and other African countries seeks to directly empower people. That is why the Chinese government invests in scholarships and projects such as the mushroom project in Rubona in Southern province, which impacts the lives of people.
From the Bamboo project to teaching Chinese language in schools through the Confucius University, China’s efforts abroad are similar to those at home- people centred.
A “smart education” project sponsored by China that will use information and communications technology will start soon in Rwanda, providing affordable internet to a number of universities and schools.
Chinese companies are also training young people in Rwanda to master computer technology and e-commerce through online and offline methods. It should also be noted that every year, hundreds of Rwandan students receive Chinese scholarships to study in China.
This is not only an opportunity for the students to gain knowledge in different fields, but it also enhances people-to-people diplomacy and cultural understanding.
This is why during the outbreak of COVID-19, China provided several shipments of personal protective equipment to Rwanda and donated over 500,000 doses of vaccines, while Chinese medical experts shared with their Rwandan counterparts’ experience on fighting COVID-19.
China’s ambitions abroad seek to supplement the vision of the countries it cooperates with, rather than impose conditions.
China is helping Rwanda to increase power generation through the Nyabarongo II hydropower plant, the construction of which began in April.
As President Xi pointed out during his visit, the China-Rwanda friendship is a perfect example of the friendship between China and Africa.
China and Africa’s economic and trade cooperation over the past decades is well reflected in the agriculture sector. Last year, African agricultural exports to China increased by 18.2 percent year-on-year, according to data revealed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.