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Rwanda asks for helping hand

Vellore, Dec. 4: Rwanda, the Central African republic emerging from a “century of lost opportunities” and the horrendous genocide of 1994, today sought India’s assistance in its “programme for national reconstruction”.

“We hope to learn from India’s experience, especially in the areas of appropriate technology, agriculture and information and communications technology (ICT),” Rwanda President Paul Kagame said after being conferred an honorary doctorate in philosophy at the Vellore Institute of Technology.

Rwanda is the first foreign country to recognise the institute, a deemed university, as a befitting place for training its youth in technical and management fields. At present, 36 students from the African nation are studying here.

Kagame, who received the degree and scroll from chancellor G. Viswanathan, said his country’s reconstruction programme involved unity and reconciliation, good governance, democratisation and poverty reduction. A senior officer in the Ugandan army till 1990 when he returned to Rwanda after spending 30 years in exile, Kagame was unanimously elected President on April 17, 2000.

Stating that Rwanda placed great emphasis on human resources development and ICT, Kagame said that in view of the long-term national development strategy, Indian entrepreneurs could take advantage of the present conducive environment to invest in his country.

The areas of cooperation could include tourism, ICT, agro-processing, construction, infrastructure development, textile, footwear and handicrafts, besides services like banking and insurance.

In his special convocation speech, Planning Commission member Sompal termed the event a “milestone in the friendship between India and Rwanda” and urged all developing countries to come together to evolve a “common position” for meeting the emerging challenges under the new WTO regime.

Referring to the contribution of the Indian diaspora in Africa to the modernisation of several countries, Sompal saw scope for greater cooperation among developing countries in partnerships like the one between Rwanda and the institute.

In his address, Viswanathan announced that two agreements were signed between the institute and the Kagame government to facilitate admission of Rwandan students to the institute, including giving them six full scholarships, and to set up a world-class ICT institute in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

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