Rwandan Ambassador to China Charles Kayonga
Exchanges between people will enhance understanding and build trust and confidence for better cooperation in all areas, noted Charles Kayonga, Rwandan Ambassador to China, while attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on May 14 -15.
Kayonga believes that the people will make the Belt and Road Initiative a success
"The objective of development is to improve the life of the people," he told ChinAfrica, highlighting people's central role in the initiative.
People-to-people exchanges in sectors like medical, educational and agricultural cooperation have been frequent between China and Rwanda over the past years. Sending medical teams and teachers, receiving Rwandan students, supporting local hospitals and vocational schools are just a few projects on China's cooperation list with Rwanda.
"People involved in these projects brought back cross-cultural experiences and facilitated the development of relationships between different peoples," he noted.
Statistics from Rwanda's National Institute of Statistics indicated that its economy has been growing rapidly since 2011 with the annual growth rate standing around 7 percent with the exception 2013. However, poor infrastructure has been hindering its future development.
The Belt and Road Initiative presents opportunities for Rwanda's integration in Africa as well as the world, said Kayonga. "Rwanda is the convergence of the East and Central Africa. Transportation connectivity projects will make it possible to connect landlocked countries like Rwanda to ports and make trade more convenient," he noted.
The infrastructure program to benefit Rwanda the most is the standard gauge railway in East Africa, connecting Kenya's coastal city Mombasa to its capital Nairobi, "It will go through Uganda, Rwanda and potentially to Burundi and Congo," he said.
To smoothly facilitate programs like this, Kayonga proposed that people-to-people exchanges should be scaled up to involve more people and cover more areas.