Rwandan President Paul Kagame has arrived in Riyadh for the inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit slated for November 10, the president’s office has announced.
The summit, expected to take place at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre, brings together leaders from over 50 countries throughout the Middle East and Africa.
Saudi and African officials hope the meeting will lead to a long-term partnership between the Kingdom and the African Union, particularly capitalising on pre-existing economic, cultural, and diplomatic relations while setting out to forge new ones.
The summit comes at a time when the Saudi Arabian Kingdom continues to cement its footprint on the continent.
Formal ties were first established between the Kingdom and several African nations in the 1960s, when they secured independence from European colonialism.
Since then, relations with respective countries have been growing, making Saudi Arabia a significant partner for different countries, Rwanda inclusive.
Among the major developments include the establishment of the Saudi Fund for Development, which has, since the 1970s, provided 580 loans and grants with a total value of approximately $13.5 billion to 54 African countries.
The Kingdom says it currently enjoys diplomatic relations with 54 African countries, operates 31 resident missions, and is working on opening 13 further missions in the near future.
A further range of projects, loans, and grants worth more than $800 million are also in the pipeline, officials highlighted.
The inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit aims to enhance political coordination between the Kingdom and the continent, fostering joint action, economic development, and investment cooperation.
Stability and development will be key to unlocking Africa’s full potential, experts say, however, to equip young Africans with the tools they need to transform their societies, investment is needed in educational programs.
In Riyadh, Kagame joins a vast group of African Heads of State including Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, Gabonese interim President Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.
Others are Kenya’s President William Ruto, Mauritius President Prithvirajsing Roopun, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera, and Nigerien Prime Minister Ali Mahamane Lamine Zeine.