Kigali preferred to Geneva for economic summit

Participants follow a presentation during the African Innovation Summit in Kigali in June. Sam Ngendahimana.

The African business leaders’ forum, which had been scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland next year, will instead be held in Kigali, according to the organisers, strengthening the country’s efforts to position itself as a major conference destination.

The seventh edition of the Africa CEO Forum – the largest international gathering of chief executive officers and investors from Africa – will be held on March 25 and 26, 2019 in Kigali. The summit is expected to attract more than 1,500 guests.


It is organised by Jeune Afrique Media Group, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and by Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in the organisation of promotional events.


“With Africa swinging into action to strengthen regional integration, the choice of Rwanda, a country at the intersection of East and Central Africa, matches the forum’s desire to facilitate meetings and encourage business flow between CEOs from across the continent,” a statement posted on the organisers’ website reads in part.


The 2018 edition attracted the continent’s major decision-makers, including the presidents of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Zimbabwe

Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, the City of Kigali Mayor, told The New Times that the growing hotel sector, which has raised the quality of conference venues as well as security and cleanliness are increasingly making Kigali attractive to international conferences.

Kigali citizens, she added, are friendly to visitors.

The mayor also revealed that the City of Kigali, Rwanda Development Board and Rwanda National Police have been meeting regularly over how to improve the liveliness of Kigali’s night life, which is widely considered to be dull.

According to the organisers, Rwanda being a gateway to the East African Community regional market of more than 150 million people and a signatory of 68 trade agreements, it is an ideal host of the event.

“This 7th edition will therefore be held at the heart of the continent, in Rwanda, a country both francophone and anglophone, whose economic dynamism and development model anchored in education, innovation and performance perfectly reflect the values of the forum,” Amir Ben Yahmed, founder and president of the Africa CEO Forum, is quoted in the statement as saying.

Launched in 2012, the forum was organised for three years in a hotel in Geneva before relocating to Abidjan in 2016 then back to Geneva in 2017. The meeting was to, as reported, alternate every year between Geneva and Africa.

The forum has been the largest international meeting of decision-makers and financiers in the African private sector.

At its last edition in March 2018 in Abidjan, it brought together 1,500 business leaders, public decision-makers and investors from around the continent and the world for two days around the theme of the necessary transformation of African champions in the face of competition.

In 2008, Kigali received the Habitat Scroll of Honour Award for many innovations in building a model, modern city symbolised by zero tolerance for plastics, improved garbage collection, and reduction in crime.

The UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award was created by the United Nations Residential Centre in 1989 to encourage and recognise countries, governments, organisations and individuals making great contributions to the development of housing.

It is, reportedly, the highest standard reward for such activities.


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