This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Rwanda.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's aircraft landed at the Kigali International Airport where he was given a red carpet welcome on Monday evening July 23,2018
His two-day state visit to Rwanda -- one of Africa's fastest growing economies -- assumes significance as this is the first by an Indian premier.
Prime Minister Modi will hold bilateral meetings with President Paul Kagame, delegation-level talks and meetings with the business and the Indian communities, a statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
In a historic development, India on Monday July 23,2018 inked agreements with Rwanda worth over $200 million in areas spanning agriculture, defence and trade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also announced the setting up of an Indian High Commission in the African country. India has never had a mission in Rwanda and Modi said that the move would not only establish “communication between the governments but also enable visa, passport and consular facilities.”
India also extended two lines of credit — one of $100 million for development of industrial parks and Kigali special economic zone (SEZ) in Rwanda and another one for $100 million for agriculture.
President Paul Kagame, who has been the President for almost two decades, also announced that private sectors of the both countries would be discussing the prospects of collaborations between Rwanda and India. Modi has been accompanied by an Indian business delegation and the interaction with the business community in Rwanda is expected to take place on Tuesday July 24,2018
Kagame and Modi had, however, met in July last year when the Rwanda President was visiting India. While announcing Modi’s visit, the Ministry of External Affairs here had said that this would be a very broad defence framework agreements as part of India’s efforts to step up ties in African countries over the last four years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday arrived in Rwanda on the first leg of his three-nation Africa tour, becoming the first Indian premier to visit the East African country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspects the guard of honour on his arrival at Kigali International Airport, Rwanda on Monday, July 23, 2018. President of Rwanda Paul Kagame is also seen
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at Indian community people during a community reception at Kigali, in Rwanda
Why cow is the best gift in Rwanda
Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifted 200 cows to Rwandan people Tuesday July 24,2018 to support Girinka programme of country's President Paul Kagame
Cow is equally revered in Rwanda and is considered the best gift for which the Rwandan government runs an ambitious scheme. Called Girinka programme, it was launched by President Kagame in 2006 to fight poverty and child malnutrition, and enhance food, nutritional and financial security of people. Girinka literally means "may you have a cow"
According to Rwandan government's website dedicated to Girinka, the program was set up with the central aim of reducing child malnutrition rates and increasing household incomes of poor farmers. "These goals are directly achieved through increased access to, and consumption of milk, by providing poor households with a heifer," the Rwandan agriculture ministry defines the objectives of Girinka programme.
Rwandan culture has a strong connect with cows. In Rwandan tradition, cow is the most prized belonging to a family. Cows have been the symbol of wealth, social status, source of milk, blood cake, meat and hides, and best gifts that one Rwandan could give to a fellow countryman.
In traditional Rwandan families, dowry is still paid in terms of cows. But here dowry is paid by the bridegroom's family to the bride's. Girinka itself is traced back to a 17th century Rwandan king named, Mibambwe Gisanura, who decreed that "no child was ever to lack daily milk again". With this began the practice of gifting cows in Rwanda. President Kagame revived Girinka in 2006.
Like many other Sub-Saharan countries, Rwanda has been a poor country. Low agricultural productivity and lack of industrial growth have been biggest challenges in Rwanda. A substantial number of rural families depend on subsistence agriculture on small farmlands. This set up led to widescale poverty and low level income for farmers.
President Kagame launched Girinka program to address the fundamental needs of the country especially the rural areas facing critical food insecurity. Girinka has helped Rwanda reduce poverty through dairy farming and improved livelihood of people. Milk consumption has increased and so has income of people.
As a byproduct of Girinka programme, Rwanda has seen increased use of bio-fertilisers, which helped it fight soil quality degradation and erosion. Need for fodder for cows has led to planting of grasses and trees, thus improving environment.
And, how it works?
Under One Cow One Family Girinka programme, a poor household is given a cow in reproducing age.
When first female calf is born of the cow, it is gifted to a neighbour as a mark of brotherhood and national solidarity.
A beneficiary is selected at village level in every district of Rwanda. The government provides budget for fodder, vaccination and other veterinary services, and artificial insemination.
Rwanda aims to move from low income group nation to middle income group in next two years through Girinka programme as part of its Vision 2020
Against a target of distributing cows to 3,50,000 families, Rwanda had already provided heifers to around 2,50,000 families by June 2016.
According Rwandan government, Girinka program has promoted unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, and has brought the cultural principle of the country back in focus.
It is here cows connect Rwanda with India. This explains why PM Modi decided to gift 200 cows to local Rwandans.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces High Commission in Rwanda
In a bid to further India's commitment to greater relations with Africa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will be opening a High Commission in the African nation of Rwanda.
Stating that India and Rwanda were looking forward to further elevate their ties, Modi, while addressing the media in the Rwandan capital Kigali following delegation-level talks with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, said: "We will soon open a High Commission in Rwanda."
India's current High Commissioner to Rwanda has a residence in Uganda.
New Delhi elevated its ties with Rwanda to that of a Strategic Partnership as it sees that country as an important gateway to eastern Africa.
On the other hand, Rwanda opened its High Commission in India in 1999 and sent its first High Commissioner in 2001.