Renovation works of Umubano Hotel into Mövenpick Hotel are expected to start mid this year, The New Times has learnt. Kasada, an independent hospitality investment platform, acquired the Kacyiru-based hotel after signing a $40 million investment deal with the government of Rwanda through Agaciro Development Fund, in June 2022. The Kasada hotels are operated under the banner of Accor’s wide range of internationally renowned brands, with investments dedicated in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tim de Raedt, Senior Asset Manager, Kasada, told The New Times that the design and development planning to construct the site into a 100-key Mövenpick hotel with the creation of additional facilities, is largely complete now. “We hope to start the construction around the middle of this year and complete it, at the latest, by the end of 2024,” he said. Expected to open in 2025, Kasada will be operating the hotel with the backing of Qatar Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and Accor, a world leading augmented hospitality group. The Mövenpick hotel brand is represented in more than 30 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “Our focus is on hospitality investments in sub-Saharan Africa, And Rwanda was one of the target countries that we had, where we would like to have an investment and from a hospitality point of view, there are a lot of opportunities that we saw,” noted Raedt. Rwanda being a service-led economy, he commented that the quality of service that one receives in any hotel across the world really depends on two things. “One is making sure you recruit the right profile of staff members. Secondly and more importantly, it’s also about how much training and development you put into making sure that the staff has the right skills.” With the Covid-19 pandemic hitting heavily the hospitality industry, several efforts have been geared towards the recovery of the sector, and within that context, Raedt said that Kasada has recorded strong recovery of hotels performance across Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to the announcement to sell Umubano Hotel by Rwanda Development Board in 2020, the hotel had been acquired by Madhvani Group at a tune of $13 million (about Rwf11 billion) in April 2017 after years of liquidation. It’s not publicly clear when and why Madhvani Group, a Ugandan-based conglomerate, exited Umubano but the main issue even with previous investors, has always been failure to make the requisite investment to expand the hotel. The hotel has been in the hands of several other investors, including the Libyan government-affiliated LAP Investments which operated it under Laico Hotels brand before the announcement to put it on sale in 2011. It has also previously been managed by global hotel brands including Novotel, Meridian and Accord.