Turkey is keen on a wider diplomatic presence in the East African region after it opened its embassy in Kigali and signed co-operation agreements, ranging from mutual elimination of diplomatic visas, foreign affairs, and education.
Rwanda and Turkey have had a number of joint activities in the past, including a security agreement, allowing Rwandan Police officers to attend the Turkish Police Academy.
“We would like to increase our relations with many African countries and regional economic organisations in the continent,” Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu, told journalists on Tuesday.
Turkey also seeks to expand the services of its national carrier, Turkish Airline, which currently flies to 48 destinations on the continent, and Turkish International Co-operation and Development Agency (TIKA) in what officials describe as fostering co-operation with real and reliable partners.
Minister Çavusoglu announced that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would next visit Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and Somalia, where Turkey is expected to open an embassy. President Tayyip Erdogan had earlier visited Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Guinea Conakry.
According to the signed Turkey-Rwanda co-operation agreements, it is expected that the number of scholarships for Rwandan students going to Turkey, particularly in medical and technical fields, would increase.
“We are looking at more opportunities in the areas of, for example textile. We are also looking at training and value addition in medical and engineering fields and many opportunities that we know Turkey offers,” Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said.
Rwanda has recently opened its embassy in Ankara, following the country officials’ diplomatic visits to the Middle East and Asia.
Rwanda remains a large importer of Turkish goods such as pharmaceuticals, cleaning supplies, car parts, clothing and paper products, electric appliances and construction equipment.
Despite the volume of trade between the two countries growing and expected to grow further in the future, there is still an imbalance as Rwanda has little to export to the Asian giant economy.
Figures indicate that Rwanda’s imports from Turkey amounted to $4.8 millions in 2009 and $5.7 million in 2010.
Kigali’s engagement saw Turkish Airlines and other businesses extend their operations to the country.
Rwanda is said to be wooing a number of Turkish companies to come and invest into the country.