About 3,500 guests are expected in Kigali for the African Development Bank (AfDB) 49th annual meetings next year, the finance ministry has said.
The five-day event, which will be held in Rwanda for the first time, is scheduled for May 19 to 23, 2014. It will attract participants from 77 African and non-African countries, including academics, finance ministers, political leaders, central bank governors, civil society organisations and the media.
Amb. Claver Gatete, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the Government and AfDB have already signed a memorandum of understanding, in which Rwanda committed itself to hosting the annual meetings.
Gatete said holding the AfDB annual meetings in Rwanda is milestone both for the continental development bank and Rwanda.
“AfDB will be celebrating 50 years since its existence, while Rwanda will also celebrate 20 years since its liberation, as well as 40 years since it joined the continental bank,” he told reporters yesterday at the finance ministry headquarters in Kigali.
Cecilia Akintomide, the AfDB vice-president and secretary general, said Rwanda has the right development story, which fits into AfDB’s vision for Africa.
“Rwanda has registered development achievements that provide hope for the future and can be emulated elsewhere,” Akintomide pointed out, adding that Rwanda had been evaluated alongside other potential hosts but its impressive track record stood out.
Côte d’Ivoire will host the meet in 2015 and Zambia in 2016. Since its inception in 1964, the African Development Bank has managed a partnership portfolio of almost $500b in both private and public sectors, where it focused on agriculture, infrastructure and energy.
Services sector welcomes development
The services sector has welcomed the development, saying it is a great opportunity to demonstrate their ability to host big global conferences and events.
Paolo Scarsellato, the general manager of Top Tower Hotel in Kigali, said most hotels in the country were being improved and would be able to accommodate the forum guests. “Many of the hotels are expanding their conference halls and room capacity.
“This will put the industry in a good position to accommodate the 3,500 conference guests expected in the country for the AfDB meeting next year,” he said.
“Rwanda is ready for the meetings as far as accommodation and other facilities are concerned. Currently, the country has over 6,000 rooms, which is way above the conference requirements. Besides, most hotels have conference halls that are equipped with modern conference facilities and can accommodate a big number of guests,” said Rica Rwigamba, the Rwanda Development Board head Tourism and Conservation, said.
The 50-year-old continental development bank provides concessional funds to finance projects in a bid to promote economic and social development. It also runs several projects that fund private sector growth.
In Rwanda particularly, AfDB funds several multimillion government projects in energy (such as the $41m grant to Scaling up Energy Access Project), agriculture and education. It also directly funds the Private Sector Federation to support business development.