UK Minister for Africa Mitchell in Kigali to launch development projects

Mr Andrew Mitchell, UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister for Africa, has arrived in Rwanda on a three-day as bilateral relations between the UK and Rwanda remain strong due to the existing controversial migration partnership that will see the transfer of illegal immigrants deported to Rwanda which is still subject to a court verdict.

Both countries await a decision by the Supreme Court after the UK High Court of Appeal ruled that Rwanda is not a safe third country for asylum seekers and the deficiencies in its asylum processes must be corrected for the country to receive asylum-seekers under its migration deal with the UK reversing an earlier decision that had deemed it safe.  

During his visit, he is expected to launch projects to support girls’ and children’s education worth approximately £72.3 million ($91.7 million) including Girls in Rwanda Learn (GIRL), a £60 million ($76.1 million) FCDO-funded programme that will run from 2023 to 2030 which is targeting to improve learning outcomes for at least 700,000 children. 

This is in addition to a £12.3 million ($15.6 million) partnership with Unicef that will last for seven years.

“Our two countries continue to work together on a range of issues important to both nations and the region, including climate change and women’s and girls’ education. The long-term partnership between the UK and Rwanda is underpinned by our support to help eradicate poverty, educate children, especially girls, and provide British expertise to improve the delivery of public services for all,” Mitchell said in a press statement released on Thursday. 

High-level discussions will also take place with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, focusing on bilateral relations and regional issues. 

Minister Mitchell will also attend Rwanda’s annual gorilla naming ceremony, Kwita Izina, which aims to highlight conservation efforts to protect these endangered species.

Booming relations between the two countries have since trade, business and tourism expanded between the two countries.

RwandAir, the national is set to launch daily flights between Kigali and London Heathrow on October 29 this year, a few months after it increased the frequency on the same route to four times a week.  

“Having first launched flights to the British capital in 2017, we have continued to build our presence following strong demand from customers here in the UK and Africa.

“We know these new daily direct flights will offer customers the convenience and connectivity which they have long asked for and look forward to welcoming more visitors to Rwanda,” RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo said in a statement.

The airline has flown between London and Kigali since May 2017 via an indirect service through Brussels, having launched flights from London Gatwick on 26 May 2017.

In 2020, RwandAir decided to switch flights to the UK’s busiest airport London Heathrow, helping to improve connections for those travelling from further afield.

Meanwhile, Rwanda continues to receive duty-free and quota-free trade and access to UK markets for all products except arms and ammunition under the UK’s new post-Brexit Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS) – which came into force in June, 2023.

DCTS, which covers 37 countries in Africa, 26 in Asia/Oceania/Middle East and 2 in the Americas, removes or reduces tariffs and simplifies trading rules so that more products qualify for the scheme, making it more generous than the EU scheme the UK was previously a member of, according to UK officials.  

“It will benefit developing countries looking to diversify and increase exports, driving their prosperity and reducing their need for aid.”

The scheme was announced last year, and legislation has since been finalized to bring it into force.

Rwanda’s imports from the United Kingdom, mainly road vehicles other than cars, telecoms and sound equipment, scientific instruments steadily increased over the last five years while exports to the UK – mainly coffee, tea, spices, minerals and apparel.

The country is now among Rwanda’s top five export destinations alongside the United Arab Emirates, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Switzerland.

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