On 7 June 2022, the Prime Minister, Minister of State, Xavier Bettel and the Minister of the Economy, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Franz Fayot pursued their trip to Africa - on this day in Kigali, Rwanda, at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagamé. This is indeed, the first working visit of a Luxembourg Prime Minister to Rwanda.
In this context, a working meeting with the President of the Republic of Rwanda H.E. Paul Kagamé was a central point of the Ministers' working visit to Rwanda. "Rwanda and Luxembourg have enjoyed excellent relations since the 1960s, which have their roots in the traditional field of development cooperation. Our meeting - and my stay in Kigali in a broader sense - is a good opportunity to give a new impuls to the development of the excellent relations between our countries, notably by focusing on the economic field, ICT and innovative financial sectors. Therefore, we hope to open a new chapter in our relations today," noted the Prime Minister in this context.
During the trip to Rwanda, two bilateral meetings were on the agenda of Minister Fayot.
He was first welcomed by Vincent Biruta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to continue discussions on potential sectors of intervention in the context of a renewal of development cooperation between Luxembourg and Rwanda. In this respect, Minister Fayot underlined the importance that Luxembourg attaches to the protection of human rights, which are a transversal priority of Luxembourg's cooperation strategy and which are promoted in the various interventions carried out in the context of the Grand Duchy's development cooperation. In the context of the World Telecommunication Development Conference, Franz Fayot and his counterpart also discussed the topic of digitalisation and the opportunities it offers for development cooperation. Minister Fayot underlined the importance of digitalisation, particularly in improving access to basic social services for the disadvantaged populations.
During Minister Fayot's meeting with the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, the ministers talked about potential areas of renewed cooperation with Rwanda. They also took the opportunity to evaluate the progress of the Kigali Financial Centre development project, for the implementation of which Rwanda had officially requested Luxembourg's support, given the Grand Duchy's long-standing experience in inclusive and innovative finance. The support of the Luxembourg Cooperation aims in particular at promoting the development of sustainable finance, the establishment of a FinTech ecosystem, the development of impact finance and capacity building. Cooperation in these sectors thus aims to empower vulnerable and underserved populations by facilitating access to financial services from which they are often excluded.
Another major point on the agenda of this official visit was the participation of the Prime Minister and Minister Fayot in the World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and taking place for the first time in Africa.
ITU is the United Nations' specialised agency for information and communication technologies and is committed to connecting people all over the world - wherever they live and whatever their means. As a result, for the ITU the critical importance of connectivity has never been more evident, and it expects the WTDC to be a major step in promoting digital partnership and meeting the 2030 sustainable development commitments.
In a short bilateral meeting, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao expressed his appreciation for Luxembourg's support for the satellite industry. He praised the ongoing projects in the field of emergency satellite communication and wishes to deepen the cooperation with Luxembourg.
A new feature of this year's WTDC is the Digital Development Roundtable of the "Partner2Connect" coalition - a multi-stakeholder alliance launched by ITU on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. It was precisely during the opening segment of this roundtable that the Prime Minister had the honour of addressing the participants from state entities, private sector companies, academic institutions, civil society actors and international organisations.
"This may be the first time the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference has been held in Africa, but it should not be the last. The African continent has enormous potential to reap the benefits of digital innovation and to leapfrog into a world of digital opportunities," noted the Prime Minister at the opening of his speech.
He then looked back at an important aspect of the last two years: "With Covid, we had to change the way we interact - and that changed the way we look at the communications infrastructure. It has been our lifeline. We could not have managed the Covid crisis without the digital networks and infrastructure that we put in place, without the connectivity of our society and our public administration. It is an anchor for our economy and our social institutions, as it brings our citizens closer to each other" before stressing that "the lessons learned from the Covid crisis reinforce our vision and our continuous efforts to position Luxembourg as one of the most digital societies in the world. This strengthens our resilience through our networks."
In conclusion, the Prime Minister stated that "Luxembourg believes in the mission of the ITU. Luxembourg supports the political objective of Partner2Connect. We want to become the partner you need to build and enable meaningful connectivity. Here in Rwanda, with its ambitious digital goals, and around the world. We want to share the expertise we have developed in Luxembourg. We want to be a strong partner in your network."
In addition to the political meetings of this mission, it is also important to develop relations between Luxembourg and local economic partners. This is especially true for Rwanda and its capital Kigali, which is on a development vector complementary to Luxembourg's expertise - with priorities on ICT and innovative financial services.
Together with experts from Lhoft and the Chamber of Commerce, a networking event was organised on 7 June to make new contacts. In concrete terms, the Lhoft network - in particular through the "Catapult Inclusion Africa" programme", which is co-financed by the Luxembourg Cooperation - and the Chamber of Commerce in Rwanda were mobilised in order to invite interesting Rwandan and African start-ups, with the help of local incubators but also via direct contacts with promising companies.
Prime Minister Bettel also took the opportunity of his stay in Kigali to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial - a place of remembrance established to commemorate the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide - to pay tribute to the victims of the genocide.
Press release by the Ministry of State / Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs