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Avellon Williams 

BARBADOS- Based on last week’s state visit to Kigali by Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor, much is expected from Rwanda-Barbados bilateral relations.

Bilateral talks with Barbados and Rwanda /Image, CBC/

Together with her delegation, Prime Minister Motley explored investment opportunities with Rwandan counterparts during her visit.

To strengthen their economic bilateral ties, both countries reached two agreements, including an air service agreement and sports development.

Both leaders stressed the need for an Africa-Caribbean region that is connected and proactive.

To get a feel for the expected outcomes of the visit, key takeaways for businesses, as well as prospects for the AfriCaribbean region, The New Times’ Edwin Ashimwe caught up with Rwanda’s honorary consul to Barbados, Emery Rubagenga.


/Image, OP/

A lot happened last week, with the high-profile engagements between both countries. But what would you say are the key,takeaways especially for the business communities?

Indeed, last week, Prime Minister of Barbados, H.E Mia Amor Mottley completed a three-day State Visit to Rwanda, she was accompanied by a business delegation and several heads of investment promotion agencies.

The business communities of the two countries discussed common areas of investment interest, exploring together the opportunities available in the two countries.

Building on that, we expect a follow-up trade mission in May, 2023 to take place in Barbados.

Several MoUs, bilateral deals were signed during the same visit. How do you plan to ensure that they materialise?

The relationship between Barbados and Rwanda is driven by both leaders, they are very committed to have strong diplomatic ties established, enabling business or even investment strategic partnerships.

These agreements signed have put together a very strong foundation, from which the institutions of the public and private sector can build from.

Last week, you personally helped officially open the honorary consulate of Barbados in Rwanda. How important is this?

Diplomatic ties are extremely important to connecting the dots when it comes to creating awareness of the opportunities available and sharing crucial and up-to-date information.

The aim of having a Barbados Honorary Consulate in Kigali is mainly to establish a bridging instrument to constantly serve as the representative of this important partnership.

In a larger perspective, the African continent and the Caribbean region have a lot to share, Barbados and Rwanda can be the connector countries.

Though they are in limited numbers, there is an increasing number of members of the Diaspora in both countries. What would you say is their role in strengthening ties for both countries?

The diaspora of many countries accounts for a respectable portion of GDP, it is therefore an undeniable contributor, adding to their individual expertise, understanding of the international ecosystem and capacity to serve as natural ambassadors of their homeland.

Private sector players, during last week’s business engagements, raised concerns on challenges hindering expected outcomes. Have you taken note of any?

Many challenges that might currently constitute a barrier to the development of the Barbados-Rwanda relationship should actually be perceived as opportunities that should be explored in-depth.

For instance, the absence of an airline connecting the African continent and the Caribbean region is a good example. The signature of an Air Services Agreement is already a good step in the right direction.

Leaders of both countries have on multiple occasions, reiterated the need of playing a critical role in bringing together the African and Caribbean regions. Are there any specific topics discussed regarding this matter?

As mentioned by our leaders, though Rwanda and Barbados might fairly be considered as small countries, they both have big dreams and very strong implementation processes in place combined with their leadership capacity to sit at the high table to participate in shaping global strategic decisions.

I, therefore, believe that it’s the perfect timing for our countries to connect, exchange, and learn from each other.

Departing shot

The GDP per capita of Barbados is $17,000, with a small demography of less than 300,000 inhabitants, without specific natural resources.

This is an interesting business case for Rwanda.

At the era when Rwanda, through its Kigali International Financial Center (KIFC) is strategically positioning itself as a financial hub, the potential of tapping into Barbados’s global investment treaties leveraging such an ecosystem is definitely huge.

On another end, the technological government platforms of the Rwandan Government (Irembo) have drawn the attention of Barbados authorities, and cooperation in e-government services is considered by both parties as a low-hanging fruit.

In brief, we have much to learn from each other.

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Avellon Williams

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