Israel opened an embassy in the central African country of Rwanda in its capital Kigali, on Monday. This is Israel’s 11th embassy in Africa.
The embassy “symbolizes the policy of Israel’s return to Africa, as was announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three years ago and in light of which he visited the continent four times and established diplomatic relations with Chad and Guinea Conakry,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated.
In July 2016, Netanyahu made a historic trip to East Africa, where he visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Weeks later, the Republic of Guinea, a Muslim-majority African nation, restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.
In August 2018, Senegal and Guinea, two Muslim-majority West African nations, sent their first-ever full-time ambassadors to Israel.
Incoming Ambassador Ron Adam, a veteran diplomat, is an expert on United Nations and energy issues and will serve as Israel’s first permanent ambassador to Rwanda. Contacts between Kigali and Jerusalem until now were held via the Israeli Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations for 25 years and include exchanges in security cooperation, and Israeli weapons exports to Rwanda.
“Rwanda is a true friend of Israel and is one of the mainstays of Israel’s long-standing friendship with the continent,” the Foreign Ministry said. “Like Israel, Rwanda is a small country with great capabilities and aspirations. The opening of the embassy reflects the continued strengthening of relations between the two countries and will enable the expansion of cooperation in many fields, including education, women’s empowerment, science and technology, innovation and agriculture”.
Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Yuval Rotem attended the ceremony.
He also met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Richard Sezibera. Discussions focused on bilateral relations and strengthening cooperation in various areas such as agriculture, innovation and technology.
Rotem also inaugurated a center for excellence in agriculture that will enable Rwandan farmers to study and experience advanced Israeli agricultural technologies. The center is a flagship project of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.
The Rwandan national airline is expected to inaugurate direct flights to Israel in the coming months, a move that will encourage tourism between the two countries and strengthen trade between the business communities.
“I am certain that over the course of the next few years, the establishment of an Israeli embassy in Rwanda will advance our relations with Africa in general and Rwanda in particular to a much higher level,” Rotem stated.