Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course Ltd, a subsidiary of Rwanda Social Security Board Sunday, August 8 unveiled a multi-million dollar golf course that has been under construction over the past months. The 18-hole golf course – a first of its kind in Rwanda – which sits on 52 hectares is a shot by Rwanda at the global golf tourism market which is estimated to be valued at $44 billion. The facility which features 23 bridges, nine lakes, three rain shelters, a hallway house and an underground tunnel took about 15 months to construct. The main works were completed in December 2020. Director-General of RSSB, Regis Rugemanshuro told The New Times that the investment was informed by the opportunity therein given the global demand for quality facilities. He said that Rwanda’s opportunity is partly driven by the fact that while the global golf tourism market is estimated at $44 billion and growing by 11 per cent annually, Africa has less than 1,000 courses, which is about 2 per cent of courses in the world. A majority of courses in Africa are in South Africa while a significant percentage of courses in Africa are not at international level. “This presented a huge opportunity for Rwanda. Having built it at a high standard, further makes Rwanda eligible as a tourism and sports destination,” he said. This facility saw RSSB invest about Rwf 17.7 billion to develop the course, including about $11 million to develop the golf course as well as additional sums for aspects such as shelters, tunnel, expropriation, buying machines among others. Before their Rwf17.7 billion investment, Rugemanshuro said that RSSB took on assets valued at Rwf16.8bn which include land and clubhouse before this was upgraded. The old course, which was a nine-hole, was run by Kigali Golf Club. “Those are part of the assets that were transferred to RUGC as a special purpose vehicle to follow on a daily basis the daily development of the project,” he said. The course is only the first phase of the project which is expected to continue for the next five or so years. The second phase includes a resort and apartment complex which initial estimates will bring the total investment to around Rwf145 billion. However, RSSB has clarified that it will not be going into phase two alone and that they plan to bring on board other investors, some of whom have already submitted their proposals so far. “This is not an undertaking that RSSB plans to do alone, the most important part was creating the infrastructure which has seen a number of investors express interest in working with us going forward. As we finalize the terms of reference, we are keen on ensuring it will be profitable,” Rugemanshuro said. The investment in the golf course is estimated to generate returns of an average of 13 per cent for the next 15 years. The facility was designed by renowned golfer Gary Player and built by Gregori International. To generate return on investment, the project has brought on board UGOLF which manages about 600 golf courses around the world, with over 30,000 registered members. The firm which will be managing the facility will among other things tap into their network to organize tournaments and bring on board professionalism in the running of the facility. During construction, officials say about 500 people were employed. Following the opening, the facility will create about 200 jobs ranging from maintenance, hospitality, among others. Josue Dushimimana, General Manager of the Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course Ltd said that in the next 5 years, they are hoping to have at least 500 members. He added that they have also developed an academy that will train interested participants irrespective of age, consequently driving demand. “The course is open, we are open to receiving members, players and those who want to learn the game. We are open for tournaments and ready for partnerships with corporations to organize tournaments at the same time observing measures against Covid-19,” he said. Unforeseen heavy rains, officials say, saw the project delayed by about 76 days as construction activities had to be halted.