The Korea Herald


[Bridge to Africa] S. Korea's assistance to Africa is an investment, says Rwandan president

Kagame says once war-torn country needs technology infrastructure to boost per capital income

By Sanjay Kumar

Published : June 5, 2024 - 15:53

    • Link copied

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame(first from left) President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from left) and first lady Kim Keon Hee pose for a group photo at 2024 Korea-Afria Summit . (Office of the President, Rwanda) President of Rwanda Paul Kagame(first from left) President Yoon Suk Yeol (second from left) and first lady Kim Keon Hee pose for a group photo at 2024 Korea-Afria Summit . (Office of the President, Rwanda)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame expressed high hopes to forge mutually beneficial ties with South Korea, stressing that the support from Asia's fourth-largest economy to the continent, particularly Rwanda, is an investment for mutual gains.

“Korea should, in fact, say that the support they give to countries in Africa or to Rwanda in particular is a sort of investment," the president said in an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on Tuesday.

"It's investing your money, your time, and your different resources so that a country develops but that development holds a lot of benefits that should come back to Korea."

Kagame was in Seoul to attend the inaugural Korea-Africa Summit which he assessed as pivotal in bridging South Korea and the continent. During his visit to Seoul, the Rwandan leader received an honorary doctorate in public policy and management from Yonsei University in recognition of his leadership. The former military leader became president in 2000 when the country had been torn apart by genocide. For over two decades, he has focused on building national unity and the country’s economy. He runs election in July for a fourth five year term.

The president told The Korea Herald that the future of Africa is bright. Still, the continent needs human capital development so that African countries become self-sufficient enough to empower local capacities and promote growth.

In this aspect, Rwanda anticipates enhanced trade, technology transfer and cultural exchanges, leading to stronger, mutually beneficial relations with South Korea.

“I emphasized the importance of mutual benefit in partnerships, highlighting Rwanda's rapid growth and the potential for Korean businesses to invest in various sectors such as ICT, manufacturing and renewable energy," he said.

Rwanda and other countries on the continent should be able to leverage this support and raise themselves for building industr, and useful technologies for development, he said.

He noted that Korea is financing several projects in Rwanda to help build hospitals and other types of infrastructure. However, the president expressed his hope that Korea could extend its support beyond constructing institutions, hospitals, and schools to include technology infrastructure, enabling Rwanda to increase its per capita income.

“We shouldn't expect friends and partners to come and do everything for us, but we need something; we need a hand to lift us to," he said.

According to Kagame, Rwanda offers a stable and investor-friendly environment, a strategic location and excellent connectivity within Africa.

He highlighted Rwanda's appeal as a financial gateway for Korean businesses seeking entry into the African market, citing the nation's stability, investor-friendly environment, strategic location and connectivity within Africa.

“Rwanda is open to all the Korean companies, absolutely,” Kagame said, urging the Korean government, industry stakeholders, and the wider private sector to utilize his country's openness for partnerships.

Rwanda can facilitate Korean companies accessing broader African markets and enhance market penetration with its streamlined regulatory frameworks, robust infrastructure and special economic zones, Kagame said.

Born in 1957, Kagame is the fourth President of Rwanda since 2000. He led the Rwandan Patriot Front and ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.

Previously Kagame has also served as Chair of the African Union and the East African Community. He is currently serving as the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office. This week, he was visiting South Korea for the fourth time.