Barbadostoday- 16 April 2022
Barbados and Rwanda strengthening ties by Randy Bennett
As Barbados and Rwanda move to strengthen ties, Prime Minister Mia Mottley believes such a partnership can pay dividends in the fight against COVID-19.
During a press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Center this afternoon, following talks with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and his team of officials, Mottley said she was particularly interested in the establishment of a COVID-19 manufacturing plant in the African nation.
As a result, she announced that Minister of Industry, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael would be travelling to Rwanda with the hope of expanding investment opportunities.
Last October, Rwanda announced it would house a vaccine manufacturing plant using the mRNA technology of the German start-up BioNTech, which co-developed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It is hoped that the construction starts no later than mid-2022.
“I think that this morning that we realized that there is a lot more to share and a lot more to do in that area of science and technology and in particular biotech and ICT. I have agreed that Minister of Industry, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael, will travel to Rwanda probably with the CEO of Export Barbados for us to see how we can tangibly and concretely put in place opportunities for investment and cooperation,” Mottley said.
“Our first interest of course is in seeing what potential there is with the vaccine manufacturing entity that Rwanda is establishing, recognising that the vaccine for COVID is just one small commodity of what that manufacturing capacity can be for.”
Additionally, Mottley said the partnership between the two countries would result in a significant boost in Barbados’ technology and sciences sector.
“Barbados has produced 6,000 graduates in the area of science from the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies here in the last five years and while there is absolute mobility in teaching we recognize that that is not the only purpose that people would want to use a science degree and therefore we have a solemn obligation to being able to build a platform for biotechnology and ICT and science and technology generally.
“Against that backdrop, we have agreed this morning to the signing of the Cooperation Agreement to a number of things. Our two countries had a Double Taxation Agreement that was signed some years ago with the ratification I was told is now in place. We will start discussions towards a Bilateral Investment Treaty as well as towards a Multilateral Air Services Agreement. I think all of us agree and we are coming closer I hope to its resolution that there must be air connectivity between the continent of Africa and the Caribbean region…” the Prime Minister noted.
Kagame said he welcomed the increased cooperation between his country and Barbados.
He said he was honoured that Mottley would be visiting Rwanda in June as the African nation celebrates 60 years of independence.
Kagame said direct travel between Africa and the Caribbean was critical as there was a “huge interest” in persons from Africa connecting with the region.
He said discussions related to travel and visa waivers had already taken place.
“We are already too late in a sense but it is never too late to connect to make friends and partnerships so we definitely want to do that…” Kagame said.