The relations between Nigeria and Rwanda started before the establishment of their diplomatic missions, dating way back from Rwanda’s independence in 1962. Over the years the ties have grown stronger, creating cordial and warm relations. Ferdinand O. Nwonye, Minister Counsellor/Ag High Commissioner of Nigeria in Rwanda, discusses current bilateral relations and the Nigerian influence to Rwanda’s development process.
European Times: How would you describe the current bilateral relations between Rwanda and Nigeria?
Ferdinand O. Nwonye: In the last five years, Nigeria has established a permanent diplomatic representation in Kigali and Rwanda has a permanent diplomatic representation in Abuja a year earlier, in order to enhance the economic ties and provide great stimulation to the business sector. Today, the two countries enjoy strong ties in trade, investment and technical areas. More broadly, our major mutual goal is to ensure that our ties increase along with the idea of integration in Africa.
European Times: What are the specific areas of interest for Nigerian investors in Rwanda?
Ferdinand O. Nwonye: One of the major interests of the Nigerian investors is the Rwandan financial sector, especially banks and insurance companies, such as investments in Access Bank and Sonarwa Insurance Company. Nigerian investors are also present in the IT sector and private business/trading. Our goal is to expand the investment process into other sectors, including tourism, telecommunication, cultural exchanges, and oil and gas. I personally believe that the Nigerian investments in Rwanda will grow because there is a good prospect for Nigerians to invest here.
European Times: How does the presence of Nigeria influence the development of Rwanda?
Ferdinand O. Nwonye: Since the era of independence from colonialism, Nigeria has been leading the Pan-African movement and has shown commitment to the wellbeing of other African countries, helping them not only to achieve political freedom and emancipation, but also economic independence.
In the areas of governance and peace keeping operations, Nigeria has been involved in contributing a high number of troops and constantly provides military and police training for Rwanda’s military personnel. In the area of technical assistance program, Nigeria sends a work force to Rwanda covering the allowances of experts sent here. Presently, we have people in various health institutions/hospitals spread across the country and these are mainly medical personnel, especially doctors and nurses. We also have lecturers in universities and institutions under the Workforce Development Agency (WDA). Our intention is to increase the scope and even the number of such volunteers to Rwanda.
European Times: How do you see business environment developing in Nigeria and Rwanda?
Ferdinand O. Nwonye: People should invest in Nigeria as the new government is doing everything possible for an improved business-friendly environment. The same goes for Rwanda. More and more Nigerian business people see Rwanda as a stable country with lots of opportunities and I am confident that alongside diplomatic, the business relations will intensify in the near future. Rwandans should try and grab the huge opportunities available in Nigeria.