Following President Paul Kagame’s visit to Doha last November, Qatari Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Kigali last week on a three-day tour during which both leaders witnessed the signing of several bilateral agreements.
The latest pacts, which span across sectors such as aviation, travel and logistics, culture, sports and tourism, and business events, come amid rising investments from the Gulf state.
In the aviation sector, Qatar’s national carrier will be cooperating with RwandAir through Rwanda’s Aviation Travel and Logistics (ATL), the government’s company for managing the national carrier as well as its investment arm.
Furthermore, Doha will reportedly become a substantial investor in Rwanda’s Bugesera Airport as the government looks to attract more investments to fund the project. Expected to become the country’s largest, the airport is co-owned by the government (25 percent) and Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil (75 percent).
The 1st phase of construction is estimated to cost $418 million and over $130 million has been infused into the project so far, with the deadline for completion of the first phase set at 2020.
The pact will improve Rwanda’s relationship with Qatar in the aviation sector, which has continued to develop since Qatar Airways launched daily flights to Kigali in 2012. The national carrier’s Chief Executive Officer, Akbar al-Baker, described the daily flights between Doha and Kigali as “proof of Qatar Airways’ commitment to strengthen its presence in Africa in general and East Africa in particular.”
The Emir and President Kagame also reviewed important international and regional issues of mutual interest, as well as the efforts of Qatar in supporting security and stability in the African Union (AU) countries.
The Gulf nation’s investments in Africa have been on an upward swing since Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al came into office six years ago. The Emir has undertaken several tours across Africa while committing not less than $800 million in investments to fund development projects in the continent.
In 2017, the Emir visited Kenya where he signed agreements for the development of scientific research and assistance in higher education. Last year, Qatar agreed a $4 billion deal with Sudan to jointly manage a Red Sea port and later in November, a delegation from the Gulf country was in Uganda, with a focus on investments in the mining sector.
Earlier this year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli signed agreements in air transport when he hosted the Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.
Qatar has three embassies in the region — Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan — and its national carrier, Qatar Airways, flies to 48 destinations in Africa.