Rwanda takes bold step to become a cycling powerhouse

A peloton of riders from different countries during the 2016 Tour du Rwanda. File.

Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) says that the country will soon become a continental cycling powerhouse, following a government decision to waive the 25 per cent levy that is currently  imposed on imported sports bicycles.

While presenting the Rwf2.4 trillion budget for the 2018/2019 fiscal year last Thursday, Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana said that sports bikes for racing purposes will be tax exempt.

 

According to Aimable Bayingana, the president of FERWACY, the government’s decision will boost the sport as more people will get bicycles and more talents will be discovered.

 

“It’s a decision we very much appreciate because it will not only boost the cycling sport in Rwanda but also help Rwandans live healthier lifestyle through riding the bikes,” said Bayingana, adding that these bicycles are normally very expensive and that the taxes made them even much more costly.

 

Bayingana says that a professional bicycle like those used by Team Rwanda riders costs between $10,000 and $14,000. Their spare parts also cost a lot of money because they are imported from the United States, Europe or Asia.

He however said that for those who want to use sports bikes for exercise and not competitively, there are bikes that are as cheap as Rwf200,000 going by the prevailing market price.

Bayingana said that more Rwandans will join the sport as taxes are slashed, adding that this will create a critical mass of cyclists which will result in having more participants in national and international competitions.

Cycling has in the past few years emerged one of the most loved sporting disciplines in the country and it has been mainly popularized by the Tour du Rwanda annual race.

The race, which will next year be upgraded to a 2.1 UCI category, has been won by Rwandan riders four times of the nine editions it has been held.

Over the years, more Rwandans have joined international cycling teams from South Africa to Germany and France that is considered to be the home for the bike with their famous Tour de France which is about to start its 105th edition.

No Rwandan has yet participated in Tour de France, but in August this year Rwanda’s raising star Joseph Areruya will race in the junior’s edition of the tour, known as Tour de l’Avenir after winning Tour de l’Espoir in Cameroon in February this year.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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