Polish President Andrzej Duda, is expected in Kigali for a two-day landmark state visit to Rwanda, beginning this Tuesday, aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between Rwanda and the European country.
President Duda, who will be accompanied by First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, is set to arrive in Kigali on February 6, from Nairobi, Kenya, which was his first stop in the East African visit, which will also see him visit Tanzania.
His visit to Rwanda marks a significant chapter in the diplomatic relations between Poland and Rwanda. Polished flags have been hoisted on the main road from the airport, to welcome the Polish leader and the First Lady.
President Duda’s visit to Rwanda holds special significance, considering the longstanding friendship between the two nations. Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and Poland, dating back to July 10, 1962, have since evolved into a multifaceted partnership encompassing education, defense, agriculture, trade, and investment.
In December 2022, Poland said it would open a diplomatic mission in Kigali ‘soon’. Rwanda opened an embassy in Warsaw in 2021, underscoring the commitment by the leaders of the two countries to deepening bilateral ties.
A key highlight of the visit is the Rwanda-Polish business forum, providing a platform for business leaders from both nations to explore investment opportunities and strengthen economic cooperation. He will also visit he LuNa smelter, the largest Polish investment in Rwanda’s mining sector, which exemplifies the shared commitment to fostering economic development.
President Duda’s itinerary includes a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, to pay tribute to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. While the visit to Rwanda is central, it’s part of a larger strategic initiative by Poland to strengthen its presence in Africa.
President Duda’s East African tour started with a visit to Kenya where he was welcomed by President William Samoei Ruto and the First Lady, Rachel Ruto, before the two leaders held bilateral talks and attended the Kenya-Poland Economic Forum, ahead of the visits to Rwanda and Tanzania.
Observers say the visit signifies Poland’s strategic commitment to fostering diplomatic, economic, and military ties across the African continent.
In December 2022, Rwanda and Poland vowed to strengthen bilateral relations, with the European nation saying it would soon open its embassy in Kigali soon, while Rwanda opened one in Warsaw in 2021.
The Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pawel Jablonski, led a delegation on a three-day working visit in December 2022 to explore opportunities and enhance economic ties.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, at the time, expressed enthusiasm about the high-level visit, emphasizing both countries’ commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations.
During this visit, three additional agreements in the fields of investments, higher education, and defense were signed. Minister Jablonski highlighted the common history shared by Poland and Rwanda, both having overcome foreign interference and dominance. The opening of the Polish embassy in Kigali was viewed as a historic moment for the relations between the two countries.
In Kenya, discussions between President Duda and host President Ruto spanned regional security, international engagement, food security, Russian disinformation, and potential areas for bilateral cooperation, with both leaders stating that the strategic collaboration extends beyond economic ties to encompass shared values, security cooperation, and addressing global challenges.
As President Duda and the First Lady engage with leaders and communities in Rwanda and East Africa, the hope is that the visit will not only strengthen existing ties but also pave the way for future collaborations in the wake of global crises that call for partnerships between countries to navigate.