By Ivan R. Mugisha. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta are in India for a four-day and two-day state visit respectively.
The two East African leaders are expected to hold bilateral talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi after attending the 8th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, a biennial investors’ forum in Ahmedabad.
President Kagame is also scheduled to address a National Business Seminar on Rwanda, where he is expected to drum up support for the country as an attractive destination for business and tourism.
India’s trade with Rwanda has grown steadily over the past few years to account for about $526 million.
The country’s national carrier, RwandAir, is also set to begin direct flights from Kigali to Mumbai this year.
President Kenyatta, who is the chief guest at the Gujarat summit, is scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting with Mr Modi before addressing the forum.
Mr Kenyatta will also hold talks with industry chiefs in India including automaker Tata, technology services firm Infosys, and Torrent Pharmaceuticals. He will also attend a Kenya-India forum.
On Wednesday, both Rwandan and Kenyan delegations, led by their presidents, will be in New Delhi for bilateral talks with Mr Modi and his delegation.
The talks will include collaboration in trade, security, ICT, healthcare and manufacturing.
The Asian country seeks to widen and strengthen its ties with East Africa, with an eye on its oil and gas, and has lined up about 21,910 agreements to be signed at the summit, of which Rwanda and Kenya intend to be beneficiaries.
India mainly exports electronics, telecoms, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods to Africa and it mainly imports cotton, crude oil, raw materials and precious metals.
It will be the first time the Rwandan leader meets with Mr Modi since the latter assumed office in 2014.
The Indian premier had, however, visited Kenya and Tanzania last July.
Mr Kagame arrived in India on Monday, while Mr Kenyatta got there Tuesday morning.