The European Business Council for Africa

On February 19 2024, the European Union and Rwanda have entered an important agreement to nurture sustainable and resilient value chains for critical raw materials. Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vincent Biruta, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen Rwanda's role in fostering sustainable development and resilient value chains across Africa.

Five areas of cooperation

This Memorandum of Understanding establishes close cooperation between the EU and Rwanda in the following five areas:

  • Integration of sustainable raw materials value chains and support for economic diversification, ensuring good functioning and sustainability of these value chains.
  • Cooperation to achieve sustainable and responsible production and valorisation of critical and strategic raw materials. This includes increased due diligence and traceability, cooperation in fighting against illegal trafficking of raw materials and alignment with international Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards.
  • Mobilisation of funding for deployment of infrastructure required for the development of raw material value chains, including through improving the investment climate.
  • Research and innovation and sharing of knowledge and technologies related to sustainable exploration, extraction, refining, processing, valorisation and recycling of critical and strategic raw materials, their substitution, waste management and monitoring of supply risks.
  • Building of capacity to enforce relevant rules, increasing training and skills related to the critical and strategic raw materials value chain.

The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and Rwanda signals both parties' intention to strengthen their partnership for closer integration of raw materials value chains. This cooperation model will bring the possibility for the partner country to diversify their economy and will be a driver for structural transformation as it will promote added value and integrate better standards in the partner country. The EU's Global Gateway investment plan will be instrumental in providing the financial support needed in skills development in the mining sector, improved transparency and traceability and support to mobilising funds for infrastructures.

Next steps

Following the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding, a roadmap with concrete actions will be developed together in six months to put the strategic partnership into practice.


Mineral value chains are critical to Rwanda's economy. The country is a major player on the world's tantalum extraction. It also produces tin, tungsten, gold and niobium, and has potential for lithium and rare earth elements. In addition, Rwanda with its favourable investment climate and rule of law can become a hub for value addition in the mineral sector. One gold refinery already exists, while a tantalum refinery will soon be operational. Rwanda also has the only active tin smelting plant in Africa.

For the EU, this partnership will contribute to ensuring a sustainable supply of raw materials, especially critical raw materials, as an essential prerequisite for delivering on green and clean energy objectives. As part of the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, the Commission has already started working to build partnerships with resource-rich third countries, making use of all external policy instruments and respecting its international obligations while implementing the EU's Global Gateway.

This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rwanda follows the signature of a MoU with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and with the Republic of Zambia at the Global Gateway Forum on 26 October 2023, and with Namibia on 8 November 2022. Outside of Africa, EU's Memoranda of Understanding on sustainable raw materials value chains are in place with Argentina, Canada, Chile, Greenland, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Global Gateway 

Global Gateway represents the European Union's effort to reduce the global investment disparity and boost smart, clean and secure connections in digital, energy and transport sectors, and to strengthen health, education and research systems. It provides sustainable investment opportunities to enhance the prosperity and security of our global partners and Europe alike.

The Global Gateway strategy embodies a collaborative approach that brings together the European Union, EU Member States, and European development finance institutions. Together, we aim to mobilise up to €300 billion in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, creating essential links rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.


Source: European Commission