Rwanda’s ambassador to China, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga

Rwanda’s ambassador to China, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga has praised the Belt and Road initiative as a platform for Africa to grow with the rest of the world.

He said the initiative, pioneered by Chinese leader Xi Jinping gives developing countries space to have a say in the global economy, create jobs and prosperity.

The Belt and Road forum opened in Beijing on Sunday. In his opening address, president Xi Jinping said the initiative aims to promote economic interdependence, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.

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“Manufacturing will open up economies of countries along the belt and road, create employment and reduce inequality,” said the Chinese leader.

Hundreds of delegates attended the forum, including 29 heads of state. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta are among the leaders in attendance.

Among others, the initiative seeks to build a network of infrastructure connecting China to Asia, Europe and Africa in the form of highways, bridges, sea ports and industrial parks.

China is injecting $18.8bn in the Silk Road fund to give more momentum in the initiative, Xi said. He also pledged $8bn in aid to developing countries and international organization along the belt and road for education and humanitarian work.

Kayonga said the belt and road initiative the vision of Africa’s Agenda 2063, which aims to integrate the continent and to develop sustainable economies.

“The Belt and Road initiative is one of the mechanisms for infrastructural development. East Africa is working with China to develop a standard gauge railway project from Mombasa in Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda and potentially to Burundi and DR Congo,” Kayonga said.

He added that the initiative would open up Rwanda to the world more than ever before.

“As you know the historical Silk Road stopped at the East African Coast. Rwanda’s location at the convergence of the East and Central Africa regions serves as a land bridge between these two Africa’s important regions in terms of agriculture, mineral resources, population, and tourism resources.

“The Belt and Road project, reaching Rwanda and beyond, will be a leap forward in process of integrating Africa not only facilitating an integration of the continent’s economy into the global one but also enhancing political integration,” Kayonga said.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is planned to create connections among regional waterways.

More than 60 countries, with a combined GDP of $21 trillion, have expressed interest in participating in the Belt and Road action plan.