Belt and Road facilitating trade between China, Rwanda

The Belt and Road Initiative is a good platform to promote Africa's business to the rest of the world, Rwandan Ambassador to China Charles Kayonga said ahead of the 55th anniversary of the founding of the African Union on Friday.

When the Mombasa-Nairobi railway project, proposed to run from the port city of Mombasa of Kenya to Rwanda's capital Kigali through Uganda eventually is implemented, people from Rwanda and further in the interior can substantially cut their journey to the coast. "Already, because of the implementation of the customs union agreement by the East African Community partner states, travel time from Mombasa to Kigali has been reduced from 26 days to about five days for trucks, and goods shipments to and from Kigali and the coast have multiplied as a consequence," Kayonga said in an exclusive interview with China Daily website.

He talked about the benefits of the railway, which would bring in or take out more products and reduce public transportation inconveniences and accidents. Kayonga praised the effort, which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative, as it would give African countries space to have a say in the global economy as well as create jobs and prosperity.

The initiative seeks to build a network of infrastructure connecting China to Asia, Europe and Africa through highways, bridges, sea ports and industrial parks.

Rwanda, a landlocked country in eastern Central Africa, has opened up more to the world more than ever before, Kayonga said. The Belt and Road project, reaching Rwanda and beyond, is regarded as a leap forward in connecting the continent's north, south, west and east while facilitating the integration of its economy.

This March, some 44 African countries signed an agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali. Kayonga said positive progress is expected, as governments have started the ratification process. When finally operational, the area will cover a market of 1.2 billion people with a collective GDP of more than $2 trillion.

Kayonga said the agreement will boost trade and development between the two sides.

At a gala celebration for Africa Day, he said the period from 2018-2024 is of "great significance" to both China and Africa, owing to the alignment of the visions and goals of the two sides and calls for even deeper cooperation.