Israel officially launched its embassy in Kigali, Rwanda- the 11th in Africa on Monday, underlining the county’s keen interest to expand its presence in Africa. This makes it Israel’s first embassy to be opened in Africa in the past eight years.
The last embassy the country opened in Africa was in Ghana in 2011. “We are returning to Africa,” Yuval Rotem, the Director General of Israel Foreign Affairs, reiterated his country’s intent upon the launch.
This is the first time in 50 years an Israel diplomatic representative will be residing in Kigali, he said. “We surely took our time but I promise to you to make up quickly the lost time and efficiently,” he said.
The Israeli official said his country is expanding its family, promising to share the happy moments and stand by each other during the hard moments.
“We guarantee that also when there are time when we might disagree on various issues, we will work together to find the solution. We promise to share and to learn from each other,” he said. Rotem described Rwanda and Israel as those family members who are similar to each other than the others.
“I can think of no any other country within our African family which is similar to us as Rwanda. We are both small countries which have suffered greatly. I believe it is fair to say that we have both risen from the ashes in all of our history,” he noted.
He highlighted that both Rwanda and Israel have succeeded to overcome hardship, not to despair but to look forward with optimism, and that both countries have decided to put first their great national treasures – the people. “It is this setting that I can think of no better place to put into action our government’s declaration; Israel is returning to Africa.
Our embassy in Rwanda will be placed to planting the seeds that will grow into striving cooperation between our people,” he stated.
The two countries share a similar history – the Holocaust and the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi – and with limited natural resources they have both leveraged on the their human resources to drive development.
“The strength and resilience shown by both countries to overcome tragedy will continue to bring our people and leaders together in our common determination to build a more just global order,”
Richard Sezibera, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister remarked. Rwanda will, on April 7, mark the 25th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
In the partnership, the Minister highlighted that Israel and Rwanda have established a horticulture centre of excellence which aims to promote advanced farming methods for both smallholder and commercial farmers.
The two countries are already growing their partnership in Information Communication Technology (ICT), security and defence and Israel investors are finding business opportunities in the country, with the latest being Netafim which is investing to develop an agribusiness hub in Gabiro, Eastern Province.
The first Israel residence ambassador to Rwanda, Ron Adam said he will put more emphasis on smart agriculture and water management, ICT, innovation and cyber security, as well as tourism.
“I plan to promote the friendly cooperation among the two countries in these fields as well as education and health,” he remarked, highlighting that his country is also launching the largest agricultural centre in Kigali.
In addition, RwandAir is in advanced plans to start direct flights between Kigali and Tel Aviv, which is expected to increase tourism between the two countries.