Air Road, Rail Development, Underway in East Africa

The Minister of Infrastructure, Ambassador Claver Gatete and his DRC counterpart, Cherubin Okende, held a bilateral exchange on the development of air, road and railway infrastructure projects.

The meeting that aimed at bolstering regional trade services was held on the sidelines of the 33rd plenary session of the African Civil Aviation Commission meeting, currently underway in Kigali.

Officials from both sides were assessing the implementation of agreed on projects in the transportation sector that are meant to improve bilateral relations and how they can be accelerated.

Speaking to the media, Minister Gatete highlighted that their discussions involved measures to perfect and pave the way for the agreements facilitating air and land movements between the residents of the two countries.

“We’ve discussed the railway line project from Tanzania, through Rwanda and then to places like Goma, Masisi, Walikale and Kindu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said, adding that all parties agreed that it is a mutually beneficial project.

Gatete added the two neighboring countries have a bilateral air service agreement in the aviation sector, facilitating RwandAir flights to Kinshasa, then to Lubumbashi and finally, Goma, noting that the national carrier will soon launch a flight to Kisangani and other parts of DR Congo.

RwandAir already flies to Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and most recently Goma.

Minister Gatete added: “We’re also partnering with them on rural construction projects in their country, in addition to a one-stop border post that is yet to be constructed in Rusizi. We also agreed that we should build four ports on our borders (Rusizi, Karongi, Rutsiro and Rubavu).”

The Congolese delegation led by Okende Chérubin Senga, the Congolese Minister in charge of transportation and communication also reiterated their country’s willingness to boost trade and cooperation in Rwanda through easing cross-border movements.

Minister Okende revealed that the Congolese airline (Congo Airways) will begin flying to Rwanda in the coming days:

“As the DRC government, we want our people from both countries to benefit from this cooperation and develop themselves. The ball is currently in Rwanda’s arena and as I have told my Rwandan counterpart, soon, our airline will launch its maiden flights to Rwanda”, he commented.

He also reiterated the Congolese head of state’s commitment to integrate African countries in his capacity as the president of the African Union.

“Our president has continued to champion the gear towards regional integration in Africa and the continent should be integrated indeed, that people are able to live in peace and prosperity,” said Okende explaining that the developments will transform Africa, to replace the continent of divisions and insecurity with peace and development.

Rwanda and DRC are strategic trading partners, as the latter is Rwanda’s leading destination of informal exports as it receives 86 percent of all the informal goods.

In 2019, Rwanda exported goods worth $372 million to DRC which took 32 percent of all Rwanda’s total exports.

However, this amount was reduced to $88 million in 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic that affected cross border trade but still DR Congo ranked second in receiving Rwanda’s exports.

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