24 June 2019

Rwanda Wins Afrobasket 2021 Bid, Beating 3 Others

Rwanda will host the 2021 FIBA Men's African Basketball Championship, also known as Afrobasket.

This was announced during the FIBA Africa General Assembly over the weekend.

The state-of-the-art Kigali Arena, which is in its final-touch works phase, will host the glamorous competition. The event will be coming to Rwanda for the first time.

The last time it was held in Eastern Africa - in Nairobi, Kenya - was in 1993.

Désiré Mugwiza, president of Rwanda Basketball Federation, said the development is " a vote of confidence in Rwanda". He said its an opportunity to showcase the country to the rest of the world."

This will be the first Afrobasket edition since the 2017 switch from a biennial to a quadrennial tournament.

Rwanda has featured at the continent's biggest basketball event five times in the six editions, with the only exception being 2015, since 2007.

The 10,000-seater Kigali Arena, due to be completed by end of June, will be home to the 2021 African Basketball Championships. / Emmanuel Kwizera

Speaking to Times Sport in an exclusive interview on Sunday, Mugwiza explained that part of why Rwanda was chosen to host the competition is the reputation it has built over the years to organise successful international events - competitions and conferences.

"It is a great honour to win the bid to host the (Afrobasket) tournament, and I firmly believe it was well-deserved. It could not come at a better time," he said, citing the Kigali Arena."

He noted that Rwanda stood out in large part because of President Paul Kagame, who is known for his love of basketball and support to grassroots basketball programmes.

Rwanda emerged as the victors after beating Senegal, Ivory Coast and DR Congo in a tight four-nation bidding process.

It is estimated that over 1000 guests -players, officials and fans - will be converging in Kigali for the competition. Tunisia are the reigning champions, while Angola have won it a record eleven times.

Rwanda's best Afrobasket performance to date remains the 2009 ninth-place finish in Libya.

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