The future of golf in Rwanda looks bright. Several initiatives are being taken to move the sport to the next level. Among them is construction of a state of the art golf club.
The multi-million dollar facility ‘Kigali Golf Country Club’ is under construction in Nyarutarama, and according to Kigali Golf Club president, Dr. Richard Gakuba, one of its core missions is to make golf more accessible to all Rwandans.
Times Sport’s Richard Bishumba interviewed Dr Gakuba recently about the facility as well as his plans to see golf become more popular and accessible to many Rwandans.
There is a new golf facility under construction, tell us about it
The New Kigali Golf Country Club under construction is a multi-million dollar project that includes an international golf course and luxury golf club. Construction activities started a few months ago and by September 2016, the facility should be available for competitions.
The course and luxury golf club, the first of its kind in Rwanda is being financed by NAS Investment Company and constructed by a South Africa-based All Africa Golf Construction company supervised by engineer Darren Johnson.
The 18-hole golf course will have a fully automated irrigation system and it will be able to host competitions at any time of the year. When construction works are complete and the country club is available, it will be among the top three in the East African region.
You mentioned the project being financed by a certain company, why is it so interested in helping you?
Financing the project is an exchange deal between the two parties (Kigali Golf Club and NAS Investments), we will get a complete golf course and golf club package in return for a piece of our land to financers, NAS Investments.
It’s a swap deal with NAS Investments, after handing over a complete golf course and golf club to us, they will be given a portion of our land. We had huge idle land and thought the deal could benefit us and the country at large.
NAS Investments are the ones who sub-contracted the construction company All Africa Golf Construction based in South Africa, our work is only to oversee works to ensure the project is done within the specified period of time.
How will the new course contribute to the progress of golf in Rwanda?
Golf is notably one of the country’s least familiar sport, when Kigali Golf Country Club starts its operations next year, we want the game to be more accessible and get more members as well as produce more golfers for the country on amateur and professional level.
By doing so, there will be a fixed program of facilitating secondary schools especially around Kigali and schedule of regular competitions from that level.
Because the course will also meet international standards, more regional and international competitions will come to Rwanda and locals will get a chance of facing the best from elsewhere as a way of fostering their level and skills.
Recently REMA suspended the construction, how did you go about the issue?
Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) suspended the construction on August 22 following complaints from the public but we sat down with them three days later, August 25 to be exact, and amicably sorted out all environmental concerns and work resumed the next day.
Environmentally speaking, the golf course will be of a huge help as the area will be kept green and clean all the time. Understandably, people had to complain because they had no idea about what is going on and REMA had to respond but everything is settled now.
However, we were fined Rwf5 million for importing unauthorized red soils used to lift the ground level so that in rainy seasons, water can not interrupt the play. With the red soil, it is projected that within two hours after heavy rain, the golf course would be ready for use.
What can people and the country look forward to from the new golf course?
Apart from producing skilled golfers for the nation, there will also be hundreds of employment opportunities as the course will need regular maintenance. There will also be need for managers and trainers in gym, sauna massage and tennis courts.
We are also in talks with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) about how the facility can be among the country’s tourism areas and RDB embraced our idea.
Unlike the golf course which being constructed by a foreign company, I’m told that a local company will be hired to construct the luxury golf club.