Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi, who recently, completed a four-country tour of Africa, was in Kigali, Rwanda on Aug.15 and held bilateral talks with President Paul Kagame.
One of the top issues on Al-Sisi’s agenda is the issue of the River Nile Basin and Egypt’s historic share of the Nile waters. His visit comes amid diplomatic tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia after the beginning of construction of the GERD dam in April 2011.
Egypt has expressed concerns that the dam could negatively affect Egypt’s share of the Nile.
According to the Egyptian newspaper, Daily News, Al-Sisi was canvassing for support for his “great navigational project” with African countries. The newspaper quoted Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Mohamed Abdel Aty.
He said Al-Sisi’s visit should be seen as proof of Egypt’s keenness on boosting relations with the African countries. Abdel Aty added that cooperation between Egypt, Tanzania, and Rwanda involved the “great regional navigational project”, a project to link the Mediterranean Sea with Lake Victoria. Egypt considers this as one of the promising regional projects, which will link the Nile Basin countries with the Mediterranean Sea, and will improve trade between these countries.
The two countries have been forging bilateral relations for some time. Dr. Namira Negm, the Ambassador of Egypt to Rwanda said that Sisi’s visit is aimed at strengthening this relationship.
In July 2016, President Al-Sisi visited Rwanda to attend the African summit. The two leaders last met in 2016 on the sidelines of the 27th African Union General Assembly in Kigali. Earlier, in March 2015, Kagame had attended the Egypt Economic Conference. Egypt also received several Rwandan ministers to attend regional and bilateral meetings.
Al-Sisi also visited Tanzania, Gabon, and Chad.
He held discussions with leaders and officials in the four countries on bilateral cooperation with a focus on security and peace in light of Egypt’s membership in the UN Security Council, according to an official statement.
The leaders also discussed challenges facing the continent and updates of the regional issues of common interest. According to the statement, Egypt is keen to boost its relations with the other African countries.
Al-Sisi was received at Kigali International Airport on Aug.15 by President-elect Kagame and treated to a welcoming guard of honour. He was driven to Kigali Genocide Memorial site in Gisozi where he layed a wreath of flowers in honour of victims of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Thereafter the two leaders held bilateral talks at village Urugwiro.
Rwanda and Egypt enjoy good trading relations.
According to statistics, Rwanda exported good worth US$30 million to Egypt in 2015 and imported goods worth about US$64million in the same year.
Egyptians are said to have developed an interest in doing business in Rwanda after participating in Rwanda International Trade Expo which is now in the 20th year.
They are reported to have replicated the trade expo as the Egypt and Middle East Expo- which was held for the 7th time from April 26 – to May 10 in Kigali.
More than 59 companies, from Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Singapore, Kenya, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates, participated in this year’s Egypt and Middle East expo.
According to Natacha Haguma, the event coordinator, the expo created over 120 part-time jobs for youth.
Last year, the trade show attracted 51 exhibitors with a wide range of products including handicrafts, textiles, home furniture, jewelry, cosmetics, decorations, fabrics, and kitchenware.