The New Times (Kigali)

23 April 2013

Rwanda: Bayigamba Plans to Build Olympic Site

The newly elected Rwanda National Olympic Committee (RNOC) president Robert Bayigamba plans to construct an Olympic Site during his first four-year term in office.

In his first exclusive interview with Times Sport, the former Minister of Sports and Culture laid out his plans and targets during his first four years in office.

"My first priority is to improve sports infrastructure because it's what the country lacks most, I am well aware of that and it is possible to have things like an Olympic site," said Bayigamba, who replaced Brig. Gen. Charles Rudakubana.

He continued:"It's my responsibility to take our sports to the next level, it's a hugely challenging task but with full cooperation from everyone concerned, we can together make a very big difference."

"I can not accomplish this task alone, and no one can, which means I'll need everyone's support and advice, mainly from people in the Rwandan sports fraternity. This (RNOC) is a very big and important office and we need to work hand in hand to develop our sport and elevate it to a higher level," he explained.

According to Bayigamba, the Olympic Site, which will also be home to the National Olympic Committee and some sports federations, will be constructed in Gahanga in Kicukiro District.

Asked where he intends to raise the money for the project from, the soft-spoken RNOC chief said: "From the International Olympic Committee and other sources."

"This project (Olympic Site), if all goes according to plan, should be complete in my first four years, it's expensive but I believe we can do it," he added.

He said his immediate assignment was to ensure that the country produces athletes who will compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "I will start from where the outgoing committee had reached with a view of taking Rwandan sports to another level".

Self-reliant federations

To realise his ambitions, Bayigamba plans to work with the national sports federations and district authorities to bring through young talents, whom he says are the future of Rwandan sport.

But, first he wants to make sure the federations are self-reliant and not dependent on government supports for survival.

He noted that the federations are not poor because there is no money but rather because they don't have good projects which can bring them money.

"It's a shame that most federations totally depend on government for existence, but that's something I want to change as well in addition to training the managers on how to effectively run these federations professionally."

The former national team volleyball player also wants to see an end to federations preparing their athletes at the last minute for continental and international competitions.

"Last-minute preparations for international games have to end and my administration will ensure that we prepare early enough for all the competitions, which is key to getting the results," he noted.

Bayingamba holds an Executive MBA in Corporate Strategy and Economic Policy from Maastricht Business School of Management and a Diploma in Management from the National University of Rwanda.

He served as Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture from 2002 to 2004 when he was replaced by Joseph Habineza (now Rwanda's High Commissioner to Nigeria).

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