It’s official! The much touted World Economic Forum on Africa gets underway in earnest in the heart of the Rwandan capital Kigali today.
More than 1500 foreign delegates are in town for the three-day meeting, the second such a gathering to be hosted in East Africa.
WEF gatherings attract top government leaders, industry executives, and civil society actors, yet they are conducted more like business meetings.
In the 26th WEF on Africa, Rwanda has an opportunity to showcase its potential across all the sectors, which could see new investors from Africa and beyond decide to partner with Rwandans in their development effort, through investing in the country.
It is our hope that the private sector is ready to maximize the forum.
But beyond the statistics, the policies and experiences that will be discussed and shared at the meeting, WEF delegates will be keen to know more about this country.
For some, this is their first time in Rwanda. And not all will have arrived here with the true image of this country.
There are many distorted narratives that unsuspecting foreigners have been fed on and possibly made to believe. Many people out there still associate this country with the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and have not had the opportunity to experience our warm values firsthand, let alone the success story championed by the brave people of this country over the last two decades.
Therefore, this is an opportunity for every individual Rwandan who will meet or interact with any WEF delegate, in one way or another, to showcase who we are as a people, to show the world what Rwanda really is today, a little more than 20 years after the end of the darkest chapter in its history.
In particular, the hospitality industry is at the centre of whatever impression that our guests will have at the end of the day. The service and warmth that individual WEF delegates will receive from individual Rwandans, whether on the street or at the front desk of a hotel, is what will make the difference.
Without good customer service from individual members of Rwandan society our guests will not be satisfied even if they were staying at an exquisite facility, complete with free uninterrupted Wi-Fi.
Extending impeccable service to every WEF delegate is not the sole responsibility of Rwanda Development Board or other government institutions involved with the meeting, it is the duty of every citizen that will have the opportunity to meet and interact with any delegate, whether in Kigali or in other parts of the country that any delegate might choose to visit during or after the meeting.
Let’s receive the WEF delegates with grace, whether in a hotel lobby or on the street, pleasantly helping them find direction and giving them a little explanation when necessary, and treating them with courtesy and respect in all our interactions, among others.
Let’s all be patriotic as we continue to make each of our guests feel welcome.
To every WEF delegate, you are most welcome to stay as long as you wish, please feel at home.