Hichilema arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday 20th June 2023 for a two-day visit. On the first day, he joined Kagame for closed-door discussions and was later hosted to a state banquet in the evening.
President Kagame extended a warm welcome to Hichilema and his delegation and reminisced on memories of his visit to Zambia between 4th and 5th April 2022.
On the second day of the visit last year, Kagame visited Zambia’s finest tourist attractions including Musi-O-Tunya (smoke that thunders) at Victoria Falls and Mukuni Big 5 Safaris, a private nature reserve where tourists can walk with lions and cheetahs.
The Head of State along with his counterpart of Zambia, Hichilema Hakainde visited the private nature park where he was seen touching a cheetah.
Speaking at the state banquet, Kagame revealed that the visit left indelible memories.
“My trip to Livingstone last year was memorable. I will certainly not forget my encounter with a friendly cheetah. We remain thankful for the gracious hospitality we received while there,” he noted.
The Head of State said that the visit of Hichilema to Rwanda is a testament to the friendship between the people of Rwanda and Zambia as well as proof of the willingness to continue learning from one another in a shared journey toward sustainable development.
“With a direct flight to Lusaka almost everyday of the week, Rwandans and Zambians now have more opportunities than ever to visit frequently and do more business together,” he underscored.
Kagame congratulated Hichilema for having taken office as the chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) noting that Rwanda looks forward to working with him together to increase and improve trade in the region and contribute to the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).
He also pointed out that President Hichilema’s participation in the Inclusive FinTech Forum later on Wednesday demonstrates his commitment to accelerate financial inclusion on the continent.
“In the midst of overlapping crises, deepening a corroboration only serves to increase our gains and bring us more hope for the future. In that spirit allow me to offer a toast to the good health of his Excellency and the friendship between the people of Rwanda and Zambia,” said Kagame.
On his part, President Hichilema expressed his gratitude for President Kagame’s visit to Zambia, during which the two countries discussed collaboration in various areas. He noted the positive outcomes already visible, such as increased public revenue collection and the digitization of services.
During his remarks, Hichilema commended President Kagame for encountering the friendly cheetah and making a promise to promote the iconic Victoria Falls to the world. He noted that since President Kagame’s visit, tourism numbers in the area had significantly increased.
“I want to confirm, President Kagame, that since your visit to Livingstone, the occupancy rates in the lodges and hotels around the area have gone up. This is not a joke because I have knowledge of what was obtained there and what is obtained now,” President Hichilema stated, expressing his gratitude to President Kagame for his efforts in marketing the destination.
President Hichilema stressed the importance of utilizing available resources effectively, rather than reinventing the wheel. He cited Rwanda’s success in digitizing services, which inspired Zambia to improve its own systems.
The Zambian President emphasized the need for collaboration in the agricultural sector and expressed his commitment to supporting Rwanda’s food requirements. He highlighted Zambia’s favorable hydrological conditions and its potential to contribute significantly to Rwanda’s food needs.
President Hichilema also acknowledged the need to harness technology, capital, land, and water resources available on the continent to produce enough food, enhance value addition, and create employment opportunities for the youth. He emphasized the importance of stability and security, as they form the foundation for development, trade, and job creation.
Hichilema concluded by stating that pooling resources and working together would deliver tangible results for the people of Africa. He stressed the significance of intra-African trade and exports abroad, as well as the need to address the issue of food insecurity on the continent.