Expanding African outreach: India names new envoy to Rwanda

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New Delhi : India started its process of expanding its diplomatic and economic presence in Africa by naming a new envoy to Rwanda on Wednesday.

In a statement, the External Affairs Ministry said that Oscar Kerketta, Additional Secretary in the Foreign Service Institute here, has been appointed as India's new High Commissioner to Rwanda.

"He is expected to take up the assignment shortly," the statement said.

The announcement comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement last month that India will open 18 new diplomatic missions in Africa this year with the first being a High Commission in Rwanda.

Till now, the Indian High Commissioner based in Kampala, Uganda, had concurrent responsibility for Rwanda.

Addressing the media along with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali on July 24, Modi highlighted the fact that Rwanda would house the first of the 18 new resident Indian missions to be opened in Africa in 2018 and that this underlined the importance attached by India to its relations with that East African nation.

Rwanda is emerging as a key nation for India's engagement with Africa.

Addressing an India-Rwanda Business Forum in Kigali, Modi called for boosting economic ties between India and Rwanda while describing that country as the gateway to the whole of Africa.

"When you have come to Rwanda, don't think that you are confined within its boundaries," Modi told the gathering.

"You will find the gateway to the whole of Africa here," he said.

The country is home to around 3,000 people of Indian origin.

Rwanda hosted the Assembly of the African Union in March this year where the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA) establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area was signed. Forty-four members of the African Union signed the Agreement.

When ratified, the Agreement would be the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.