SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will visit Kigali, Rwanda from Thursday (Jun 23) to Saturday to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), his first official trip to Africa.
Mr Lee will remain in Kigali for an official bilateral visit from Sunday to Monday, and he will call on Rwanda President Paul Kagame, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said on Wednesday.
The biennial CHOGM brings together Commonwealth leaders “to reaffirm their common values and agree on actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens”, according to its official website.
The meeting was due to take place in June 2020 but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s meeting focuses on delivering a common future through “connecting, innovating and transforming”. Its themes include governance, inclusivity, sustainability and recovery from COVID-19.
“Leaders will review developments in the Commonwealth and discuss salient global and regional issues. Prime Minister Lee will also have bilateral meetings with other Commonwealth leaders on the sidelines of CHOGM,” PMO said.
Mr Lee will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, as well as officials from PMO and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In Mr Lee’s absence, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will be acting Prime Minister.
In a separate statement, MFA said Dr Balakrishnan will attend the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers’ meeting in Kigali on Thursday. He will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting.
“The foreign ministers will review developments in the Commonwealth and discuss issues of concern to member states, including sustainable development and post COVID-19 recovery,” said MFA.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 member states from Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific. Almost all members are former territories of the British empire.
The Commonwealth’s relatively smaller size, its use of a common language in English and similarities in political institutions make it a useful forum for member states, MFA said on its website.
According to the Rwanda High Commission in Singapore’s website, Singapore is Rwanda’s largest trading partner, with about US$150 million (S$208.4 million) worth of foreign direct investments made by Singapore companies in Rwanda.
In August 2021, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on digital economy cooperation, paving the way for businesses in both countries to seek partnerships in emerging technologies, digital government, cybersecurity, and the digitalisation of small- and medium-sized enterprises.