A multimillion dollar complex to serve as the Office of the Prime Minister has today been handed over by the Chine government but concerns of alleged spying did not go without being addressed.
China is under scrutiny after allegations emerged that it had installed secret bugs in a building it constructed for the African Union as headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Coincidentally, the allegations surfaced last year, during the AU Presidency of President Paul Kagame.
He played down the allegations, saying at the time that he did not understand why the AU could not have built its own headquarters in the first place.
At the same time though, China has for past three years been putting up a large complex in Kimihurura, a suburb of Kigali. Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente will move there beginning today.
In total, it will house more than 1,000 people – including PM’s staff and several other government ministries and departments.
At the event to hand over the building, Infrastructure Minister Claver Gatete was asked if the Chinese would not access whatever was being done from this complex.
“Construction was supervised from the start by a joint team from Rwanda and China,” said Gatete to reporters.
He added: “A review we conducted gave us the confidence that nothing like what happened at the African Union can happen here. Our team was present throughout the construction period.”
Jianbang Zheng, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, transfered the $25m bloc to PM Dr Ngirente at a function marked by heavy rain.
Officials said 70% of construction materials were shipped from China while 30% were from inside the country, as part of the made in Rwanda promotional campaign.
The Chinese top official is in Rwanda for a three-day visit and met President Kagame on Sunday.
It is not the first government office provided by the Chinese. The Foreign Ministry bloc, just next to this new one, is also a gift of the Chinese.
Rwanda ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) party has an extremely close relationship with the Chinese Communist party – both sides regularly visiting each other.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was here in July last year, and Kagame has been in China several times for official visits.
This new complex will also be home to other government institutions including the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ministry of Justice and the law reform commission.