Press statement by President von der Leyen with Rwandan President Kagame

Dear President Kagame,

Thank you very much for the warm welcome. The European Union and Rwanda share strong ties. I am here today to express just how important this partnership and friendship is to the European Union. And we think there is a lot of common potential that is still to be unleashed. Global Gateway is investing round about EUR 900 million in Rwanda. But important is not just how much we are investing but also how we are investing. For us, it is very important to come with high environmental and social standards, and with transparency. We want to share technology and knowledge because that is crucial for a genuine partnership. I think it is important to train the local workforce because investment in people is the most sustainable investment you can think of. And we want to create good local jobs, for the people of Rwanda by bringing in public but also private investment.

Let me briefly look at three different elements. The first one is indeed the health sector. We have just inaugurated BioNTech Africa, an mRNA-producing facility to manufacture vaccines at scale on the continent. This means, vaccines made in Africa, for the African people. And it serves Rwanda's ambition to become a leader in vaccines and health services in Africa. So we have discussed today the intense work that we are doing together. Global Gateway, or the European Union, is organising twinning meetings between the Rwandese health authorities and their counterparts in the European Union. We are financing lab equipment, e-health technologies and medical skills programmes. All these are very important to have a conducive environment for the private investors. We have just signed a EUR 40 million Team Europe funding package to invest in Rwanda's pharmaceutical and biotechnological sectors with a very special focus on research, development and entrepreneurship.

The second element is that Global Gateway delivers for the agricultural business industry. It is a strong sector here in Rwanda but it is also an industry or a sector that is faced with several challenges: price volatility, scarcity and the impact of climate change. And here, Global Gateway invests with EUR 380 million in the competitiveness of the food industry in Rwanda. In particular, we are very much looking forward to the construction of the Kigali Wholesale Market – a big and very ambitious project. It will become the central distribution hub in Eastern and Central Africa for fresh and processed food. And therefore, this will have an exceptional impact on job creation for the people here in Rwanda.

The third sector is the focus on the value chains for critical raw materials. And here, we have just seen the agreement between Rwanda and the European Investment Bank, we are also about to sign a cooperation on critical raw materials between the European Union and Rwanda. We want to go – and this is a crucial point – beyond exploration and extraction. Sharing skills, so that Rwanda can develop activities with high value added, like processing but also refining. And this will help Rwanda's companies access new markets and export to partners.

I want to commend you for the strong partnership in fighting climate change, and our joint work at COP28. Here, I want to thank you for initiatives like the rolling-out of renewable energy. You have the resources in abundance here. And I want to thank you for the leadership on climate and the environment. You are leading the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. And you are a shining example on how beneficial it is for the country. You have joined the Global Methane Pledge. Thank you very much for joining our Global Pledge to double energy efficiency and triple the amount of renewables by 2030 globally. And you are a frontrunner in using innovative tools for climate mitigation and adaptation.

To conclude, I welcome the signing of the Samoa Agreement. It will be the foundation of the partnership between the European Union and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States for the next 20 years. So we are in it for the long haul and I want to thank you for being a trusted partner.

Thank you very much.