KIGALI, Rwanda, Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- France had been Rwanda's master for three decades until November 2009 when Kigali turned its allegiance to the English speaking Commonwealth, a 53-member collective of former British colonies.
Until then, the politics of Rwanda were decided from Paris. French leaders held the people and leaders of Rwanda in utmost contempt. Rwanda accuses France of funding and arming the government with its militias to execute the 1994 genocide against Tutsis.
Finally, the day came, 29 November 2009 – when Rwanda changed shifted allegiance to London. Rwanda had been desperate for new friends who valued mutual respect and sovereignty.
Louise Mushikiwabo – then Rwanda's information minister, now Foreign Affairs Minister, spoke joyfully about the membership.
"Rwandans are ready to seize economic, political, cultural and other opportunities offered by the Commonwealth network," she said at the time.
Six years down the road, Rwandan officials say despite the challenges they have had to overcome, the struggle was worth it.
Between 2009 and 2014, Rwanda attracted about $3 billion in foreign direct investments equivalent to 40% of the country's GDP.
The investments are distributed in agriculture, telecommunication, construction, mining and quarry, energy, manufacturing, hospitality, transport, education etc. – and spread across the board.
A total of 111 projects worth $390.6 million were registered in 2014 alone. Symbion Power, an American energy investment firm, accounted for 40.2% ($157 million), injected into extraction of methane gas from Rwanda's Lake Kivu.
Total investment from Mauritius, S. Korea and Turkey alone ($732 million) is bigger than what France and Belgium invested in Rwanda since they colonized the country half a century ago.
But this is not where Rwanda wants to be yet. The country hasn't tapped well into the predicted $14 trillion combined GDP and $680 billion of trade between the Commonwealth member countries.
Coincidentally, on the same day Rwanda joined the Commonwealth, France's President at the time Nicolas Sarkozy dispatched the secretary general of his office Claude Gueant, Elysee's Secretary General to Kigali. After talks with President Paul Kagame, relations with Paris were restored after they were ended by Rwanda back in 2006.
As the economy has ballooned, so has the country transformed socially. Rwanda has empowered nearly 2million out of poverty between 2008-2014.
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SOURCE KT Press