Cooperating with Rwanda to achieve sustainability in food and nutrition security and integrated water resources management, enhancing institutional capacity and empowering young entrepreneurs are among the most important strategic tasks to which the Netherlands are dedicated. Evaluating that Dutch policies fit very well with what Rwanda itself wants, Frederique de Man, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Rwanda, speaks about the perspectives of their intense bilateral cooperation.
European Times: How would you evaluate the economic and political relations between Rwanda and the Netherlands?
Frederique de Man: The bilateral relations overall are blooming. They have gone through three phases: from humanitarian aid, to regular development cooperation, evolving to the current approach of linking aid and trade. We are working to achieve vibrant trade and investments between the two countries, building a mature relationship based on mutual economic benefit.
European Times: Can you specify ongoing projects and reveal some of the future plans?
Frederique de Man: We have supported Rwanda’s efforts to boost water resource management with two financing agreements worth over €34 million in grants. Part of this programme consists of an investment fund for the water sector which will be open to other stakeholders as well. Furthermore we are looking at what the Netherlands can mean for Rwanda in the agricultural value chain.
In November 2014, our Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade visited Rwanda accompanied by a big trade mission, and last year we had a trade mission which mainly focused on agriculture. Rwanda has ambitions to establish itself as an ICT hub in the region and I think Dutch investments and trade collaboration should focus on this sector, as well as on training and supporting young entrepreneurs.
European Times: Which are the main challenges for investors and what can they expect?
Frederique de Man: The deficit in energy and electricity is an issue of concern, and in setting up their production, Dutch companies pay a lot of attention to reduce the dependency on the electricity network by including diverse sources, such as independent solar energy. Investors should visit Rwanda and see for themselves that Rwanda is among the few countries which have such a clear vision where they want to go to and are doing everything to make their planning a reality, including dealing with the electricity issue, by e.g. the use of methane gas, in which the Netherlands is also investing. Furthermore, it seems that people are not really properly informed about Rwanda, which is unfortunate because this country has an outstanding potential. Our Embassy is making efforts to inform the global public on how Rwanda is performing at the moment. The description I often use is: simply amazing.