I am happy to visit Rwanda as a part of my official visit to several African countries. This is my second visit in a span of 6 years to this beautiful country. During my short but pleasant stay in Kigali, I felt the Rwandan habitual hospitality and had the pleasure to observe once again the constant progress of Rwanda as well as ever-growing Turkish-Rwandan partnership.
What I always find admirable and inspiring about Rwanda is that it has proved the world that change is possible. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was one of the most despicable tragedies that humankind has ever witnessed. Yet, rising from the ashes of this tragedy, Rwanda was able to carry out a remarkable transformation within a short period of time towards peace and prosperity.
Türkiye is an ardent supporter of the principle of “African solutions for African problems” as emphasized also frequently by the President of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame. We will continue to support the concerns of African people in all international fora. Despite the historical injustices during colonial times, global apathy towards natural disasters and famine, and unacceptable external interferences, the resolve of African nations to overcome these enormous challenges is outstanding. With its young and dynamic population, vast opportunities, rich and deep-rooted culture and history, the African Continent promises enormous potential for a more just, more equitable and better world in the 21st Century. Africa means hope and Türkiye and Africa are partners in this journey.
Türkiye shares the African approach on global issues and actively works towards a more prosperous global order. With this understanding, Türkiye did her best to secure the “İstanbul Grain Deal” to contribute to efforts of maintaining global food security.
Türkiye-Africa relations have gained considerable momentum in the last decade. We have mutually taken bold and decisive steps to strengthen and deepen our relations. This has been a common goal in our African Partnership Policy.
Our 44 Embassies in the Continent bear testimony to our growing partnership. President Erdoğan ranks first in terms of the number of visits to Africa among global leaders. In the last 20 years, Türkiye has become a hub for African diplomatic representations.
Rwanda is a key partner in Africa for Türkiye. The reciprocal opening of our Embassies laid the ground for our current cooperation which today encompasses a wide range of domains from politics, trade, security to sports, culture and education. High level visits between our countries have become very frequent. We had the honor to host H.E. President Paul Kagame in Istanbul in December 2021 at the Third Türkiye-Africa Partnership Summit. My friend, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta visited Türkiye 4 times in the last 2 years.
A similar enthusiasm is notable in the interaction and cooperation of our business people, entrepreneurs and investors. This can be seen in a range of successful projects, in particular the Kigali Convention Center and the BK Arena as landmark buildings of Kigali. As more Turkish entrepreneurs are able to take advantage of the encouraging and welcoming business environment of Rwanda, our bilateral trade volume has increased fivefold in the last 4 years from 30 million USD to 183 million USD (as of November 2022). As a result, the total amount of Turkish investments in Rwanda has exceeded 465 million USD. Rwanda’s business friendly environment, political stability and good governance, will certainly convince more business people and investors from Türkiye to be part of the economic success of this country in the years to come.
We continue to work hard to advance our humanitarian and enterprising diplomacy – a foreign policy approach to which I attach particular importance because it touches the very hearts of people. That’s why we have prioritized educational and cultural exchanges between our people, encouraging mutual understanding and personal interaction, including commercial relations and embracing mutual investments.
We are pleased that more and more Rwandan students benefit from Turkish scholarships and study in Turkish universities. Moreover, the Yunus Emre Institute, the pioneer Turkish institution teaching the Turkish language and culture worldwide, offers Turkish classes in Kigali in cooperation with the University of Rwanda. Yunus Emre Institute is also looking forward to inaugurating a full-fledged Turkish cultural center in Kigali. Another leading Turkish educational institution, Turkish Maarif Foundation plans to open a technical and vocational education and training school soon.
In the past decades, Rwanda has sacrificed and struggled to attain the peace, stability and prosperity that it currently enjoys. It has become a source of inspiration for other African countries. Türkiye is a close friend of Rwanda and stands together with the Rwandan people in their journey towards peace and prosperity.
Türkiye has always been and will continue to be a trustworthy partner to Rwanda in its bid to present a bright example of good governance and ever stronger ambition to improve the living standards of its people.