By Dan Ngabonziza
The newly elected President of Benin, Patrice Talon, says his intention to visit Rwanda was to buy leaf on the country’s rapid transformation.
He has been President of the republic of Benin since April 6 this year. Rwanda becomes his second country to officially visit after France since he was elected.
Speaking at a state dinner hosted by President Paul Kagame in his honour at Radisson Blue and Convention Centre, President Talon said; “This is my second official visit Rwanda, the first country I went to was France after my election as President. I wanted to visit Rwanda to express in the name of my country and as an African how proud we are of Rwanda’s leadership.”
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said, President Talon, who is in the country for a three-day state visit which started yesterday, listened attentively as government officials gave him a clear picture of the country’s remarkable journey to transformation.
“I salute you in honour of the pride you give all of us Africans. We are not a cursed people and Rwanda has shown the example.”
For President Talon, “This country has shown me that when you have the will and commitment, we can do as much if not more than others.
In response to his counterpart, President Kagame rendered Rwanda’s support in working closely with Gabon to push both countries to the next level.
“Good politics, conducted in an atmosphere of transparency and security, is the basis for all economic and social development,” Kagame said.
Tipping his newly elected counterpart on what has pushed Rwanda to where it is today, Kagame reminded that; “National unity and accountable public institutions are achievements that must never be taken for granted.”
Although the two countries are geographically far from each other, they forged bilateral cooperation based on air transport.
In his speech, President Kagame said that soon, “Rwandair will begin flights to Cotonou and this lays a ground for cooperation which we build on.”
Benin which is 4times the size of Rwanda, has a population of 10 million people compared to Rwanda’s 11 million people.
Despite part of Benin extending up to the Atlantic coast, its size of GDP is $22.542 billion (based on purchasing power parity) slightly higher than landlocked Rwanda’s $20.343 billion.