Coinciding with Rwanda’s Liberation Day celebrations, the day when the then Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) drove the last remnants of the killer regime out of the country, yesterday afternoon the new national convention and exhibition center was opened by President Paul Kagame. This follows hot on the heels of the visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was on a whirlwind tour of Eastern Africa and concluded his trip in Kigali, where he was warmly welcomed.
The complex, which includes a main auditorium, conference facilities, and an industrial research and development park, besides the new Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali, is a source of pride for Rwandans and in particular for the country’s tourism industry. For Carlson Rezidor, this constitutes a major expansion of their Radisson Blu brand, after the opening late last year of the Nairobi Radisson Blu.
The increased meeting facilities will aid Rwanda’s drive to capture a larger slice of the African MICE market which will get a further boost when additional five-star hotels open this year and next year like the Marriott Kigali, the Ramada, and most likely a Sheraton, too.
The new complex will be standing its litmus test when later in July the annual summit of the African Union will be held in Kigali and all of the convention center’s facilities will be fully booked.
The building was nearly three years overdue when just over a year ago the Rwandan government sacked the Chinese contractors for nonperformance, brought in a Turkish construction group, and gave them a deadline to complete the building by June of this year.
This was by and large accomplished and the official opening of the new facility once again shows how Rwanda has risen from the ashes of the 1994 genocide, and in a short 22 years has reconciled the people of Rwanda and rebuilt the country, now a star performer on many scores in Africa.