India, Rwanda sign aviation, visa deals

Rwandan Airways to begin direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai in April

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:51 pm IST

Published - February 22, 2017 12:56 am IST

Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Rwandan PM Anastase Murekezi during a meeting in Kigali on Monday.

Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Rwandan PM Anastase Murekezi during a meeting in Kigali on Monday.

India and Rwanda have concluded a bilateral air services agreement enabling direct flights between the two countries. This is among the three memorandums of understanding (MoUs) concluded during Vice-President Hamid Ansari’s visit to the African nation. In the words of Amar Sinha, Secretary, External Affairs Ministry, it was a visit from which India learnt a lot.

Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi and Mr. Ansari witnessed the signing of the MoU by Mr. Sinha and Alexis Nzahabwanimana, Rwandan Minister of State for Transport.

“With direct flights between the two countries, we expect our exchanges to be more fruitful,” Mr. Murekezi said.

Rwandan Airways will begin direct flights between Kigali and Mumbai in April.

The other two MoUs pertained to the setting up of an entrepreneurial development centre in Rwanda and exemption of visa for entry of diplomatic and official passports.

The agreements were signed in the presence of a large business delegation from India at the newly constituted India-Rwanda Business Forum organised by the FICCI and the Rwandan government.

Briefing the media at the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Sinha said while there was much to discuss what the Rwandan government wanted from India, including the desire of many pharmaceutical companies to open shop in the country and to have Bollywood films shot in Kigali, Mr. Ansari too had several questions on the many Rwandan initiatives.

Encourage tourism

“The Rwandan government wants to encourage tourism. With the air services agreement, that should happen. But they also want Bollywood films to be shot here, because they have noticed how tourism to New Zealand picked up after Bollywood started shooting films there,” Mr. Sinha said.

He said Mr. Ansari had many questions about President Paul Kagame’s governance model that had helped Rwanda become one of the cleanest, most well-run states in the region.

“It’s a visit where we too had a lot to learn ... the reconciliation of various groups, to be conscious of a colonial policy of divide and rule and to try and overcome it, and how they are overcoming ethnic majoritiarianism by concentrating on a shared linguistic and cultural heritage.”

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