The New Times (Kigali)

22 April 2014

Rwanda: Hospitality Sector Ready for Upcoming AfDB Meeting

Rwanda is ready to host the forthcoming 49th African Development Bank Annual Meetings slated for May 19-23 in Kigali, organisers and hoteliers have said.

According to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and hoteliers association, private villas have also been secured to ensure that all delegates have a comfortable stay.

Faustin Karasira from RDB's tourism and conservation division said the organizers are keen to ensure that all the accommodation options meet international standards.

"We have identified potential private villas that could provide us with about 600 extra rooms to cater for guests expected for the continental event," Karasira said.

Karasira, who was talking to Business Times about the readiness of the services sector, especially hotels and conference facilities, to host the AfDB Annual Meetings, added that all the other facilities needed to host the event were in place.

Overall, there are over 250 registered hotels in Rwanda, providing about 6,000 rooms, about 3,000 of which are in the greater Kigali area.

Over 3,500 guests from about 77 countries are expected to attend the 49th AfDB Annual Meetings scheduled for May 19-23.

Karasira further noted that RDB recently conducted a joint inspection of all the hotels earmarked for the events and service providers to gauge their level of readiness.

"The results of the joint inspection are promising. We are emphasising to stakeholders, especially in hotels sub-sector, to equip their staff with the required skills, install faster Internet service and ensure maintain hygiene."

Charles Muia, the Kigali Serena Hotel general manager, said though the industry was overstretched, players were working around the clock to ensure excellent services during the event.

"All the hotels are booked to capacity. We are going to ensure all facilities meet the standards," Muia, who is also the vice-chairman of Rwanda Hoteliers Association, said.

Emmanuel Werabee, the head of quality and standards at Rwanda Development Board, said they are in consultations with stakeholders across all sectors to ensure that everything is ready to successfully host the continental event.

"We are working with all the chambers involved in transport, airport authorities, security agencies and other key players to ensure the event is a success," Werabee said.

In a related development, Rwanda is also going to host the International Trade Centre 14th World Export Development Forum 2014 from September 16-17.

The two-day global conference will be the first ever to be held in Africa and will be looking to create trade and employment opportunities by increasing the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises.

This year's forum will also be held with the International Trade Centre's Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum, which links women vendors with international buyers.

Rwanda recently successfully hosted two big conferences in Kigali; the continental Transform Africa Summit and the ICT for Agriculture, which attracted hundreds of delegates from all over the world.

These conferences greatly boosted the country's confidence as it looks to attract such major meetings as one of the strategies to attract more tourists and global experts to enhance foreign exchange inflows and strengthen its balance of payment receipts.

Major global luxury hotel chains, including the Marriott and Kempinski, are already setting up shop with schedules to begin operations this year.

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