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Senegal's President Faye seeks closer ties with Kigali following Abidjan visit

Monday, 13 May 2024 15:32
Senegal's President Faye seeks closer ties with Kigali following Abidjan visit

(Ecofin Agency) - Bilateral trade between Senegal and Rwanda remains relatively low, according to data from WTO. However, both nations established embassies in 2012 in Dakar and in 2020 in Kigali to bolster their ties, a vision seemingly pursued by the new Senegalese authorities.

Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye hosted his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, during his visit to Dakar on May 11 and 12. Following exchanges and a sporting event, the two heads of state expressed their commitment to reaffirming the friendly relations between their nations.

“They discussed ways to further strengthen the already existing bilateral relations between Rwanda and Senegal in key sectors including tourism, trade, and governance,” according to the Rwandan presidency. On the Senegalese side, the aim is to "further enhance the bonds of fraternal friendship and cooperation" between the two countries.

The Rwanda-Senegal economic cooperation dates back several decades, though their trade figures remain modest, according to International Trade Center (ITC) data. However, it was only in 2011 that Rwanda decided to open an embassy in Dakar, while Senegal opened its embassy in Kigali in 2020. Since then, Rwanda has been actively seeking to draw greater interest from Senegalese investors in its economy. This effort was underscored by the charm offensive conducted in 2022 by the Kigali International Financial Center (KIFC) at the Rwandan embassy in Dakar, aimed at showcasing the investment opportunities available in the country to Senegalese investors.

Paul Kagame's visit aligns with President Diomaye Faye's "pan-African" diplomatic roadmap. Since taking office in April, the former secretary-general of PASTEF has already visited his counterparts in Mauritania, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. Before welcoming his Rwandan counterpart, President Faye visited Abidjan. His emphasis on fostering deep, cordial, and friendly relations with the Ivorian people and their leaders sparked criticism from some internet users. They perceive Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara as being overly aligned with France, a stance that has faced scrutiny following recent diplomatic challenges in Sahelian countries.

Moreover, the visit of President Kagame, accused of fueling insecurity in eastern DRC, also attracted some criticism on social media from users who believe that the announced break by PASTEF must also involve distancing from Rwandan authorities.

For now, the new Senegalese authorities seem to have a clearly defined diplomatic agenda, and Mr. Faye, positioning himself as a reformer, is meeting with influential leaders on the African diplomatic scene.

It is worth noting that he was elected on the promise to change the socio-economic and political situation of his country. In his opening speech, he reaffirmed to partners "Senegal's commitment and openness to exchanges respectful of our sovereignty, in line with the aspirations of our people in a mutually beneficial partnership."

"Alongside my African counterparts, I reaffirm Senegal's commitment to strengthening efforts for peace, security, stability, and African integration," he also emphasized.

Paul Kagame's visit to Dakar is the second after the one in 2022, during Macky Sall's presidency.

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ECOFIN AGENCY offers a selection of articles translated from AGENCE ECOFIN. Founded in 2011, Agence Ecofin is a leader in Francophone Pan-African economic news, particularly in West and Central Africa. The agency publishes daily news on nine African economic sectors: Public Management, Finance, ICT, Agribusiness, Energy, Mining, Transport & Logistics, Communication, and Training.

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