Rwanda and Zambia on Monday signed seven cooperation agreements that will boost trade between them.
The deals signed cover areas of investment, trade, agriculture, and migration.
The agreements were signed by Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Stanley Kakubo and his Rwandan counterpart Vincent Biruta, and witnessed by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and his Zambian counterpart Hakainde Hichilema, at a ceremony in Avan Hotel in Livingstone city, southern Zambia.
Kagame is on a two-day state visit to Zambia. Upon arrival on Monday morning, Kagame was received by President Hichilema at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport.
Zambia is among Rwanda’s major sources of raw sugar, corn, and soya bean imports. Trade value between both countries reached $20 million in 2020.
A statement by Zambia’s presidential spokesperson indicated that the country plans to leverage cooperation with Rwanda to rebuild its economy, create jobs, and put food on the table.
“Zambia is also using this opportunity to learn and share best practices in areas of information and communication technology as well as the areas of easing the cost of doing business,” the statement said.
The country also plans to learn from Rwanda how to position its economic sector into key economic pillars.
The two Heads of State were scheduled to visit some of Zambia’s tourist attractions including the Victoria Falls, a waterfall on the Zambezi River that provides habitat for species of plants and animals, and Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
They also planned to have a guided tour of the Kazungula Bridge, a road and rail bridge over the Zambezi River between Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
The presidential visit comes almost two years after Rwanda accused Zambia of supporting rebel groups working against Kigali.
The accusations surfaced from testimony during the trial of Paul Rusesabagina, the “Hotel Rwanda” hero who was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to 25 years in jail by Rwandan courts.
During the trial, Callixte Nsabimana aka Sankara, Rusesabagina’s co-accused, claimed that the ‘Hotel Rwanda hero’ received financial support from Zambia of up to $150,000 as part of a $1 million pledge to oust President Kagame.
The Zambian government denied the allegations.
In July 2020, Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji jetted to Rwanda and held private talks with President Kagame on the matter. After the talks, Mr Malanji informed the media in Zambia that both he and President Kagame considered the allegations “not credible”.
Rwanda has in past also accused Zambia of harbouring genocide suspects, allegations Lusaka denied.
Both countries have been working to revive diplomatic relations since 2017 when President Kagame last visited Zambia, and have signed agreements on air services, defence, and security.