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L to R: Prof. Rama Rao, Emiritus Professor, University of Rwanda; Abhilash Puljal, Secretary General, IRFA and Principal Abhilash Puljal & Co.; Kartikeya Sharma, Member of Parliament, India; H.E. Jacqueline Mukangira, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to India; Munish Gupta, President, IRFA; Vinay Palaparthy, MVG Enterprises Rwanda 

Stronger Together: Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India. Second Edition

India Rwanda Friendship Association (IRFA) and the High Commission of the Republic of Rwanda in India released the Second Edition of the book - "Stronger Together: Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India" edited by Abhilash Puljal and Pranjal Sharma. The unveiling ceremony took place at the India International Centre in New Delhi on November 10, 2023.

Our gratitude to Her Excellency Jacqueline Mukangira, the High Commissioner of Rwanda to India, Mr. Emile Mwepesi, Mr. IRAKOZE Prosper, and the entire dedicated team at the High Commission of Rwanda in New Delhi. Their unwavering support played a pivotal role in making this event a resounding success.

Special appreciation to the esteemed authors who contributed their valuable insights to the chapters: Mr. Anoop Bose, Dr. Jean Damascène Bizimana, Dr. Usta Kaitesi, Prof. Rama Rao Bokka, Pranidhi Sawhney, Philip Lucky, Prakash Jain, Mohan Suresh, Rudra Chatterjee, and Munish Gupta. Your expertise has enriched the discourse on the dynamic relations between Rwanda and India.

This book was first launched at a ceremony during the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) in Kigali on 23 June 2022. 

This book is a collection of Essays by authors based  in India and Rwanda, discussing the rise of Rwanda over the years and her strategic partnerships with India.


L to R: Pranjal Sharma, Author and Commentator; Munish Gupta, President, IRFA; Claire Akamanzi, CEO, Rwanda Development Board;

Abhilash Puljal, Secretary General, IRFA and Principal Abhilash Puljal & Co.

Stronger Together: Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India.

IRFA is pleased to announce the release of its first publication, a Book compilation, edited by Abhilash Puljal and Pranjal Sharma titled "Stronger Together: Rising Rwanda and Strategic Partnership with India."

This book was launched at a ceremony during the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) in Kigali on 23 June 2022. 

This book is a collection of Essays by authors based  in India and Rwanda, discussing the rise of Rwanda over the years and her strategic partnerships with India. Below is a brief gist of each of the chapters:

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By Anoop Bose


Rwanda is a home to 680 bird species out of which Nyungwe forest (largest protected mountain rainforest forest in Africa) alone is a natural haven for 280 bird species Rwanda is a veritable haven for Mountain Gorillas. Out of the estimated 1063 Gorillas left in the wild globally, 300 are believed to be residing in the Volcanoes National Park of Rwanda. Music, dance and poetry are an integral part of Rwandan culture. The most famous traditional dance is “Intore”, a vibrant dance consisting of three components - the ballet, performed by women; the dance of heroes, performed by men; and the pulsating “Ingoma” drums, with a music called “Imbyno” that also gives rise to many other forms of dance, like “Umudiho” which is performed with feet stamped on the ground with resonant force. Apart from this, Rwanda is noted for “Imigongo”, a unique cow dung art, and crafts life pottery and ceramics, painting and wood carving. It is also recognised for its strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories. On the culinary front, Brochettes, consisting of meat or fish on skewers, and served with grilled bananas or potatoes, are popular with Rwandans and tourists as much as the sparkling golden tea from the evergreen slopes of the Nyungwe Forest. In terms of sports, the infant Rwandan cricket team is making steady waves in the realm of international cricket. The Gahanga International Cricket Stadium in Kigali is a truly imposing architectural marvel that’s worth a visit.



By Dr Jean Damascène Bizimana


April-July 1994, Rwanda experienced a horrible genocide which took away more than a million Tutsi lives and was characterised as acts of genocide in 1993 by international organisations including United Nations. One of the strategies used was to set up militia groups (formed from 1992 in various places including military camps) of young killers within the Presidential Party. In 1994, when the genocidal forces were losing the battle, France obtained the resolution of 22 June 1994 from UN which established Operation Turquoise. The UN reluctantly authorised this operation, giving France a two-month time limit and forbidding it to constitute itself as “an intermediary force between the parties.” But in fact, it was a highly military operation in which France aligned a total of 3,060 men from the best units of its army. Colonel Théoneste Bagosora, along with the Prime Minister of the Interim Government, Jean Kambanda, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). After the establishment of Judiciary in August,1996, only a handful were tried. In response to this situation, the so-called “Gacaca” customary jurisdictions were designed in 2001, set on a customary rule according to which “Everything works with the population and by the population”. In this setup, the judges were selected by the population and perpetrators were taken to the place where the acts were committed. In memory of the genocide, Monuments have been constructed in Rwanda, Belgium and in France and the Rwandan government has started the process to inscribe 4 genocide memorial sites as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


CHAPTER 3 - Recovery, Vision and Future Prospects 

By Dr. Usta Kaitesi


From 1994 to 2004, The new government formed after the devastation caused by the genocide introduced different paths set to lead Rwanda towards development. Since living standards have improved such that life expectancy has tripled, maternal and child mortality ratio have reduced significantly. Through the implementation of the Vision 2020, Rwanda invested heavily in many socio-economic development projects in the field of infrastructure and ICT like, 4G services roll out reached 96.7% of Rwanda’s geographic coverage, making it 1st in the East African Community in network readiness and 5th in Africa. Mobile Phones and internet penetration rate moved to 78.1% and 60.4% respectively. For two decades Rwanda maintained a steady economic growth of 8% that led to the reduction of poverty from 78% in 1994 to 38.2% in 2018. Rwanda’s GDP per capita also increased from USD 225 in 2000 to USD 787 in 2018 and it has progressively improved in the ease of doing business ranking from 150 in 2008 to 29th in 2019 where online business registration has been digitalised at 100%. Similarly, tourism has been a major contributor to economic growth whereby its receipts registered an annual average growth of 38.7% from 2000 to 2017. The country envisions to achieve universal access to high quality health care, universal access to high quality education to have a transformed workforce for higher productivity under Vision 2020.



By Professor Rama Rao Bokka


GACACA Court played a major role in post-conflict recovery for Rwanda, stressing on the importance of creating a strong governance. To secure the foundation of its governance, Rwanda decentralised administration down to the villages and brought gender parity by establishing a Gender Monitoring Unit and a full-fledged Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion that contributed to the gender equality, making it the first country worldwide to have highest percentage of women in parliament (63%). According to the World Bank, Rwanda improved substantially between 1996 and 2019. Political stability and non-violence moved from 4.26 to 52.38, rule of law improved from 5.53 to 56.25, regulatory quality from 9.24 to 58.17, government effectiveness from 12.02 to 60.58, control of corruption rose from 26.88 to 70.67. Apart from this Rwanda’s performance significantly improved in political rights and civil liberties (85.76%), participation and inclusiveness (81.96%), economic and corporate governance (78.14%), etc. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index assigned 52nd place with 53% score globally to Rwanda and Mo Ibrahim’s index assigned 11th position with a score of 60.1, which testify that Rwanda, within Africa and globally, is faring well and acclaims good governance, the credit for which, goes to the leadership of the nation. President Kagame’s government is praised as the 7th best government globally with proper institutional infrastructure ensuring security and making Rwanda the safest country to live in. The decision to take leadership for the effective implementation of the African Common Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), the largest free trade area agreement ever made since the creation of the World Trade Organization, has been lauded by the Brettonwood institutions.


By Abhilash Puljal & Pranidhi Sawhney


Aspiring to be Middle Income Country status by 2035, Rwanda was amidst an economic boom prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with its economic growth averaging 7.2 % over the decade to 2019 and exceeding 10% in the same year (World Bank, 2020). Along with this, poverty declined from 77% in 2001 to 55% in 2017, life expectancy at birth improved from 29 in the mid-1990s to 69 in 2019 and maternal mortality ratio fell from 1,270 per 100,000 live births in the 1990s to 290 in 2019. Also, the official inequality measure, the Gini index, declined from 0.52 in 2006 to 0.43 in 2017. Rwanda stands out for its rapid growth in the technology space especially for ease of doing business. Some examples are: Mara Group that established a mobile phone manufacturing unit in Kigali and Volkswagen opened Rwanda’s first car plant in 2018 which also made Rwanda the first country in Africa to introduce electric cars jointly with Siemens. Many Indian companies like Bharti Airtel and Luxmi tea ventured into Rwanda for investments. Besides this, the investment in the construction of Bugasera international Airport alone absorbed USD 400 million. According to UNCTAD, FDI into Rwanda for 2018 stood at USD 382 million, jumping to a whopping USD 2.46 billion in 2019 and dropping to USD 1.3 billion in 2020. India’s trade with Rwanda is miniscule compared to Rwanda’s regional neighbours. India’s exports to Rwanda during 2019 was USD 280.53 million whereas India’s imports from Rwanda stood at USD 5.76 million for the year 2019. Major trading items include electrical and mechanical machinery, pharmaceuticals and vehicles, iron and steel, aluminium, glassware, sugars. Precious, Semi Precious Stones, Tea and Coffee. 



By Pranjal Sharma 


Under the leadership of HE President Paul Kagame, Rwanda has been on the path to using smart technologies for various economic and welfare activities. Rwanda has embraced emerging technologies to demonstrate how the African continent can benefit from latest scientific breakthroughs. For e.g., According to a UN report, The National Centre for Blood Transfusion (NCBT) which is responsible for arranging ample supplies of blood to patients ensured safety and availability of blood countrywide which led to the drop in child mortality by two-thirds between 2000 and 2015. Rwanda became the first country in the world to use commercial drone delivery service to ferry blood and medical supplies in 2019 and in an effort to battle Covid-19 deployed robots to ensure safety for patients. Rwanda set the tone for high tech manufacturing with smart phones and new age vehicles. Technologies like internet, artificial intelligence and blockchain are being considered, experimented with and deployed wherever required. According to estimates by, there were 4.12 million internet users in Rwanda in January 2021 and Internet penetration in Rwanda stood at 31.4% in January 2021. The number of mobile connections in Rwanda increased by 415 thousand (+4.1 percent) between 2021 and 2022 (Data Portal, 2022)



By Philip Lucky


Rwanda is one of only 3 countries in the world where the critically endangered mountain gorillas live and where you can trek to see the majestic gorillas up-close. Situated in Rwanda’s far northwest, is the Volcanoes National Park, named after the chain of dormant volcanoes, is a home to endangered mountain gorillas. On the other hand, Nyungwe National Park holds the source of Africa’s great rivers feeding the Nile River in the east and Congo River in the west, and is known as the most endemic species-rich area in all of Africa. Akagera National Park, a home to lions, leopards, hyenas and giraffes, is the largest protected wetland in central Africa and the last remaining refuge for savannah-adapted animals and plants in Rwanda. Established in 2014, Rwanda Convention Bureau’s mission is to promote Rwanda as a premier destination that meets the needs of your future meetings. Rwanda has prioritised MICE tourism as one of the drivers of its economic growth. Indeed, tourism is the country’s largest foreign exchange earner with MICE playing a significant role in its growth by bringing in 20% of all tourism revenues.




By Prakash Jain & Mohan Suresh


To strengthen diplomatic relations and trade cooperation, The Honorary Consuls of Karnataka and Maharashtra have been working in this direction to see the relations of Rwanda and India elevated to greater heights. Today, there are Indian investments worth over USD 400 Million in the different sectors of Rwanda. In terms of trade, Rwanda imports a substantive quantity of goods from India, including pharmaceuticals, iron and steel, machinery and equipment. On the other hand, it exports tea, spices, essential oils and avocados to India. Some major achievements in investments include Nyabarongo I Hydro Power Plant which was completed in 2015 by the Indian govt worth USD 80 million. In line with the target of connecting the people, India and Rwanda signed the Bilateral Air Service Agreement in February 2017, opening routes for Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir to start direct flight operations between Kigali and Mumbai in April 2017.



By Rudra Chatterjee


Rwanda is regarded as one of the world’s easiest, safest, and cleanest locations to do business and travel. Rwanda already has direct connectivity with India and will soon have a modern new airport in Kigali with investments from Qatar Airways with a purpose to enhance the ease of doing business in Rwanda. Rwanda has set itself the target of generating USD 1 billion in annual agricultural exports by 2024, which is more than double the current output from the sector and is looking forward to export promotion under many sectors, which include cash crops (like tea, coffee etc), agro processing, mining and horticulture. Rwanda produces good quality crops like tea, coffee, macadamia, avocado, spices and now their government is stressing on the need for diversification of the economic base with more value addition.



By Munish Gupta


From a business and investment perspective, Kigali is increasingly being viewed by Indian organisations and institutions as a place to host or organise conferences. In July 2019, Indian think tank, Observer Research Foundation (ORF) organised the Kigali Global Dialogue in Kigali. Kigali. In August 2019, Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) organised the India-Africa ICT Expo. The second India-Africa ICT Expo 2020 took place on a virtual platform with the support of Government of Rwanda in December 2020. These examples further validate the growing importance of Rwanda in the Indian business eco-system and inclination to promote South-South Cooperation. In 2017, the India-Rwanda Innovation Growth (IRIGP) was launched as a pilot in which the Department of Science & Technology (Government of India) partnered with the National Industrial Research & Development Agency (NIRDA) under the Ministry of Trade & Industry (Government of Rwanda). This example is seen as a harbinger of South-South cooperation, especially between India and Africa. The programme has now been expanded to Ethiopia, and will be offered to other nations of the East African community, and will then be scaled up to seven other economic zones across Africa.

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