Kigali Convention Centre to host June AU Summit


The Kigali Convention Centre, still under construction, will open to operations by June, just in time to host the 27th African Union Summit as its maiden major event. (Timothy Kisambira)

Kigali Convention Centre will open in June and host the African Union Summit as its maiden major event, The New Times has learnt.

The Executive Chairperson of Ultimate Concepts Limited (UCL), which owns the project, Eng. Didier Sagashya, said in an interview yesterday that the centre, poised to be a hub of service in the East African Community, will be operational by June.

Valued at more than $300 million (about Rwf223 billion), the centre will comprise a five-star hotel with 292 rooms, a conference hall that can host 2,500 people, several other meeting rooms, as well as an office park.

“We are working 24 hours a day to complete the project. Starting with April, we will be doing final touches but construction works are currently at 70 per cent complete. The centre will be operational by June 2016,” Sagashya said.

The project is owned by UCL, a joint venture co-owned by the Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) and Prime Holdings Ltd as well as private investors, including Crystal Ventures Ltd and Rwanda Investment Group (RIG).

One of the world’s leading brands in hotel management, Radisson Blu, has an agreement to manage the centre and has already advertised that it will open mid this year under the brand name, “Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre, Kigali.”

The Kigali Convention Centre under construction. (Timothy Kisambira)

An advert for the hotel says that its advantages include placing guests only five kilometres from the city centre and Kigali International Airport, an impressive convention centre, an outdoor swimming pool, a variety of restaurants located at the area, free high-speed wireless internet, cosy cafés and bars, as well as other great meeting rooms, among others.

One of the planned major events to take place at the hotel this year is the 27th African Union Summit scheduled for June, but Sagashya said many other events have also been planned to take place at the convention centre.

The facility is one of the major projects that the government has initiated to help boost the country’s tourism industry.

It is one of the reasons why the government borrowed money from international markets in 2013 when it issued a $400-million Eurobond.

In April, last year, the government hired a Turkish engineering firm, Summa, to complete construction of the centre by the first quarter of 2016 after its completion had delayed for more than four years.

By hiring Summa to complete construction of the project, the government terminated a 2009 contract to build the centre by the state-owned Beijing Construction Engineering Group over unsatisfactory work and delays.