Rwanda severed diplomatic relations with France in 2006 following the issue by Judge Bruguière of nine arrest warrants against Rwandan officials in the case of the attack on the aircraft of President Juvénal Habyarimana in April 1994. The Rwandan authorities decided to restore diplomatic relations with France on 29 November 2009 during a phase between 2008 and 2011 of closer ties. That involved a visit by President Sarkozy to Kigali in 2010, and a return visit by the Rwandan President in 2011. However, there was no visit between 2012 and 2018. The Rwandan President has made several visits to France since 2018, in a context of a strengthened bilateral relationship. France has, however, not had an accredited ambassador in Kigali since October 2015.
- Visit by President Sarkozy on 25 February 2010 with the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and the Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie.
- Visit by Mr Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, on 7 April 2010.
- President Paul Kagame attended the Africa-France Summit in Nice in 2010.
- Visit by Ms Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, on 19 July 2011.
- Visit by Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, on 12-13 September 2011.
- Visit by Ms Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, on 5 September 2012.
- Ms Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, attended the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa on 6-7 December 2013.
- Visit by President Kagame to Paris for VivaTech, on 23 and 24 May 2018.
- Visit by President Kagame to Paris for the Paris, on 11 November 2018.
- Visit by President Kagame to Paris for VivaTech, on 16 and 18 May 2019.
France’s exports to Rwanda have picked up since 2010. In 2016, France was the country’s third-largest supplier, thanks to the sale of two Airbus aircraft to RwandAir. Aviation equipment represents approximately 9% of imports, at around €223 million. In addition to these contracts, France’s market share in Rwanda’s list of suppliers is growing more generally. In 2010, France was ranked 18th, with €16.7 million of exports to the country, while it reached 11th in 2017, with €48.6 million.
France’s imports from Rwanda are also growing, with a rise in imports of 16.6% in 2017 (€2.7 million in 2016 and €3.1 million in 2017). Agricultural products make up around 95% of France’s imports from Rwanda. These imports have been generally stable since 2009.
Cultural action is an important dimension of bilateral cooperation. It is characterized in particular by the reception of Rwandan students in France, for whom the number of grants has doubled, and by French support for multilingualism in Rwanda.
Providing €3.3 million of ODA (official development assistance), France is Rwanda’s eleventh-largest bilateral donor. In the absence of an accredited ambassador to Rwanda, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) has reduced its activities since 2015 and several projects are pending, although none has been suspended. In 2011, the AFD granted a credit line of €16.2 million to the Bank of Kigali, which was entirely disbursed, along with an ARIZ guarantee worth €6 million. There was an outstanding total of €8.5 million at the end of 2017. In September 2018, the AFD approved a similar credit line of €17.3 million with an ARIZ guarantee and technical assistance, as well as a grant of €300,000 to develop the bank’s SME portfolio. Lastly, in April 2017, the AFD made a grant of €550,000 to the NGO Frères des Hommes to co-finance a project to build the economic and social capacities of the most vulnerable smallholders’ households in eight sectors of Southern Province.
In addition to AFD activities, France contributes to official development assistance to Rwanda through financial institutions (global funds).
Updated: 5 June 2019