Focus: Kigali’s centenary year installed the city as a landmark venue

With the end of 2007 closing in, festive celebrations are in full gear. Soon we shall be treated to end of year concerts, crusades, miracle conventions and any excuse for merry making.
Implementer’s forum 2007. (File photo).
Implementer’s forum 2007. (File photo).

With the end of 2007 closing in, festive celebrations are in full gear. Soon we shall be treated to end of year concerts, crusades, miracle conventions and any excuse for merry making.

The end of this year is unique because it coincides with Kigali city’s centenary celebrations, since October city authorities have subtly but consistently organizing colourful events to congratulate Kigali.

Kigali’s story could win an Oscar in Hollywood because her tedious transition from being a killing field as recent as 1994 to a glamorous city hosting local, regional and international landmark summits, conferences and workshops gives much anticipation and inspiration in equal measures.

Today Kigali outlook resembles that of a healthy young girl emerging out of puberty-beautiful, innocent, curious, natural, and yet full of potential-that is the reason Kigali has attracted many suitors as a venue for conferences and discussions.

These conferences have not only benefited the emerging event management industry-which is a counter product of Kigali’s growing profile but also increased favourable image for the city and the country to the regional and international community.

Bruno Rangira Kigali City’s spokesman says the city is a favourite venue for regional and international conferences because we have total security, and it’s a nice place, strategically located.

The decisions made in Kigali have an impact in a larger African region. They are attracted by our investment in security and efficient transport.

"He adds that the visitors to Kigali increase the profile of the city and “creates new opportunities as visitors spend money here on top of bringing new ideas.”

The number and intensity of workshops, summits, conferences and retreats are increasing, on top of cementing Kigali’s reputation a safe, secure and peaceful city, it has ensured the growth of a very organized transport industry-where many jobs have been created and linkages expanding to add to the high profile Rwanda tourism industry.

The generous attention given to Kigali city’s centenary celebrations should have a special corner for event managers, car hire services, hotels and maybe even brochette makers.

Kigali’s leading hotels have hosted glamorous events especially beginning in November as every corporate, charity; government and private organizations hold year end workshops with smoothly drawn themes to maximize attention and goodwill from the general public……at least by the catch posters usually hanging around Kigali’s vantage round abouts in the city centre and Kacyiru perhaps to attract patrons heading to the leafy environs of Serena and Umubano hotels.

For history writers, it will be noted that in her centenary year, Kigali hosted such historical dialogue meetings, conferences and workshops in which landmark ideas and visions for the future of Africa were discussed and signed. The HIV/Aids Implementers meeting in June and Connect Africa summit in November are chief among them.

Rwanda’s horrible history and changed fortunes today-a modern emerging state with good leadership, political and economic stability has attracted many NGOs to the country, serving a variety of legitimate causes.

Perhaps in line with increasing government emphasis on developing capacity and being a leading supporter of regional and developing world economics, Rwanda has in the most recent past hosted prestigious conferences all in Kigali.

In June, Kigali hosted the UN International conference for HIV/Aids implementers and activists, before which there had been the international women parliamentarians meeting held in February attended among other high profile guests Her Excellency President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, another country that has greatly leanrt from Rwanda’s highly successful emergence from total destruction.

Like Rwanda, Liberia is emerging from decades long civil conflict that caused the death of many people. However, unlike Rwanda, Liberia has greatly benefited from her close association with US politics and social economic ties.

The Women parliamentarian meeting was followed by international workshop on neglected tropical disease, which has a three year multi million dollar donation from an anonymous donor to fund research about Neglected Tropical diseases like Schistomiasis, elephantiasis and leprosy in Rwanda and Burundi whose treatment has been ignored at the expense of sexually transmitted diseases.

Then to show her ability in being a dynamic host, Kigali has welcomed international political figures just having time out of office-who have gone to tell Rwanda’s moving, inspiring and successful story to a large audience.

Chief among such guests is President Pierre Nkurunziza. The Burundian leader, whose personal story is as moving and inspiring as Kigali’s-looked so ‘at home’ while playing in midfield as Hallelujah Fc, the team he plays football for-was facing Vision 2020-the team for whom President Paul Kagame was coach.

The other political figure is James Cameron, the British opposition politician-who put his chances of becoming the next prime minister of England by choosing to visit Rwanda in August.

His entourage went on to play cricket at Kicukiro Secondary school and promised many gifts to Rwanda Cricket Association according to Julius Mbaraga RCA’s spokesman ‘to develop the game in Rwanda.’

There was also the International Investment conference-in which a new grand design for the future of Kigali city was presented. From the illustrious graphics presented in that conference-Kigali will be the ultimate centre of urban life in the region.

Fresh in memory is the highly prestigious Connect Africa summit in November which was attended by six sitting African presidents and many more international figures in the powerful global information technology industry.

Even if in a dramatic turn of events, the visiting presidents blasted the number of conferences –on which a lot of time and money is spent yet the resolutions or results are never seen, “For over the past years, we have been attending unending summits…I was afraid that this will also turn out to be one of them but after finding out what was on the agenda, I don’t regret having came,” Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said.

Wade and Wamutharika did not have to regret for about conferences a fact because at the sidelines of that particular conference that both leaders attended many important deals which will change the face of the global ICT industry particularly in Africa were being signed.

First was Microsoft joining the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to accelerate the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals in Africa, the deal will help in providing skills development and capacity building along with the delivery of relevant applications and services for the Rwanda and regional market.

Microsoft Inc is the empire built and managed by the world’s richest and most generous man Bill Gates who also helped develop Rwanda’s first experience with software manufacture-Gorilla 1000 Computers and helped introduce computer software in Kinya-rwanda language.

Bill Gates is also helping in Africa’s fight against HIV/Aids through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The second deal was about connecting all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband infrastructure; it involved the African Development Bank and International Telecommunication Union.

Hollywood superstars have also made the trip to Rwanda, they include; Darryl Hannah, Owen McGregor, Natalie Portman, and US diplomat Andrew Young along with Quincy Jones-who has since bought an island on L. Muhazi on which he plans to invest in hotel and ICT firms in Rwanda.

The world’s richest man Bill Gates has also been drawn to Rwanda’s unique beauty and commitment to develop from poverty.

After visiting several attractions and projects in Rwanda, Bill Gates announced that he would spend $900,000 to build a medical centre where doctors and technicians from across the region will be trained in treating infectious diseases.