Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame is in Angola on a two-day state visit where the two leaders are expected announce strengthened partnerships in air transport, security and justice, migration, ICT and governance.
However, sources say Kagame is Angola to convince his Angolan counterpart to close down businesses run by Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, who Kagame accuses of funding parties opposed to his regime in Kigali and wants Uganda to hand him over to Rwanda, which would be the
violation of the international law.
Rujugiro owns the Pan African Tobacco Group (PTG) which also produces cement in Angola even though the company does businesses in other countries. Sources say it is unlikely that both Angola and South Africa will close Rujugiro’s business. He recently visited South Africa.
Kagame’s visit to Angola comes as tensions between Rwanda and Uganda continue, and political observers believe he might also be seeking alternative markets for Rwandan goods after banning the importation of Ugandan goods into his natural resource-scarce country.
PTG is Africa’s largest indigenous producer of cigarettes and other tobacco products, having begun about forty years ago. Rujugiro founded the company in 1978 when he began manufacturing cigarettes in Burundi in 1978 after a successful stint as a commodity trader across Africa.
He subsequently established a manufacturing plant in Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1984, and later expanded into the South African market in 1991. Between 1996 and 2011, PTG commenced manufacturing in Angola, Uganda, Tanzania, the United Arab Emirates,
Nigeria and South Sudan.
The company’s latest addition is the processing plant in Arua,Northern Uganda, established in 2013. Today, the company records more than US$200 million in annual revenues and employs more than 7,000 people across Africa.
Last week, Uganda accused Rwanda of implementing a trade embargo on bilateral trade, saying exporters had been unsuccessful in securing permits to export goods to Uganda.
Before visiting Angola, Rwanda’s Kagame has also visited Tanzania and South Africa.
Kagame also hosted Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who told delegates at a national leadership conference that ‘‘while challenges exist, with goodwill and good intentions’, they can be resolved’.
While Rwanda depends for much of its imports on a trade route through Uganda to Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa, its foreign minister, Richard Sezibera said they are exploring the use of alternative trade routes and corridors such as Central Corridor via Tanzania.
Since the diplomatic conflict climaxed last month, Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has also met with Kenya’s president Kenyatta and Deputy President, William Ruto.
Uganda’s foreign minister, Sam Kutesa also delivered a ‘special message’ to Tanzania president John Pombe Magufuli last week.