The highly awaited Kigali Arena is inching closer to its completion as construction activities of the indoor stadium are to be finalised by end of June this year, officials have said.
The project is a joint venture between the Government of Rwanda and Turkish Investment Company, Summa.
The 10,000-seat facility is multi-purpose for indoor games, but it will also host meetings, conferences, exhibitions and concerts. It is located next to Amahoro National Stadium, in Remera.
Among other sports, the state-of-the-art arena will be home to major basketball and volleyball events in the country.
The architectural impression of the moden facility to be completed in Kigali next month. Net.
Eric Serubibi, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority, told Saturday Sport that the facility’s executed physical works are now at 70 per cent while the progress in consideration of materials on site is at 85 per cent.
Serubibi said he trusts the standards and quality with which the arena is built despite the rapid pace its construction has been on since beginning early this year.
“The facility is designed as per international standards for sports activities and public gatherings, and there is a permanent supervision team for day and night shifts,” said Serubibi.
The construction activities of the indoor stadium kicked off in January and are expected to be completed next month as initially planned.
According to John Ntigengwa, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Sports and Culture, Rwandans should take advantage of the ‘world-class’ facility for the promotion and development of sports and culture.
“We had no proper arena to host big competitions; festivals and concerts. This is a great addition to our sports infrastructure. Once complete, we will be eligible to bid for hosting big events than we have ever done before,” he said.
“It will, definitely, also have an impact on talents development, the performance of our teams, and expose our players to foreign markets.”
Ntigengwa noted that the completion of the Kigali Arena will come with many opportunities to host regional and international – sports and cultural – events because it will be the best and biggest in region, and among the top fifteen on the continent.
“We will now have a chance to host a lot of games at the continental level and beyond.”
The construction project of the arena has generated between 1000 and 1200 jobs for the labor community who work day and night, in shifts, to ensure the facility is completed in time.
Should Rwanda win the bid to host the 2021 FIBA Africa Basketball Championships (Afrobasket), Kigali Arena will host the competition – the continent’s biggest basketball meet.
Pascale Mugwaneza, the Vice-President of Rwanda Basketball Federation (Ferwaba), is optimistic that the facility will greatly impact the local basketball; both at club and national team level.
“Kigali Arena presents a big opportunity to attract international basketball tournaments, and that would position Rwanda as the leading sport tourism destination in the region.
Our players will have a chance to access a high-standard facility, and that will – in many ways – improve their knowledge and skills in the sport.”
While there is a noticeably growing interest for basketball fans in Kigali, the existing 2,500-seater Amahoro Indoor Stadium was a limitation. The small capacity had also failed to entice companies to sponsor teams and competitions.
Several opportunities, according to Mugwaneza, will be flowing in from the world basketball governing body (FIBA) and NBA Africa soon as the arena is completed.
In a separate interview, Léandre Karekezi, president of the Rwanda Volleyball Federation (FRVB), said that the arena enables them to bid for competitions they could not host in the past.
“We have long wished to host major international volleyball competitions but we could not get that chance because we had no qualified facilities. It was a big challenge.”
“Kigali Arena is a timely addition to our indoor sports infrastructure; it comes when needed the most. We, the volleyball fraternity, had even thought of contributing to it, but the Government had it sorted.”
It is expected that the 2019 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship for girls, in August, will be the first international tournament to be hosted at the modern venue.