What Hosting the African Union Summit Means for Rwanda's Hospitality Industry
The African Union (AU) Summit, which will be hosted in Kigali from July 10-18, presents a big opportunity for Rwanda's private sector, particularly hoteliers and those in the hospitality industry, according to Francine Havugimana, vice chair of the Private Sector Federation's Tourism Chamber and owner of Impala Hotels.
A boost in business
The most obvious benefit is more bookings, plain and simple. Some 3,500 delegates are expected to attend the summit along with their delegations. All of these arrivals to Rwanda will need hotel rooms, food, and transportation. Then, there are the businesspeople who tag along to network and secure business deals.
Beyond hotels, restaurants, bars, transportation firms, financial institutions, and tourism outfits all stand to earn additional money from the AU Summit crowd, says Havugimana. Communities will also benefit from taxes paid to the businesses, she adds.
An opportunity to rebrand
This year's AU Summit promises to be a big deal. For one, delegates must vote on a new AU Commission chairperson after the current chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of South Africa, announced she would step down. Many Africans will be following the summit, and hence happenings in Kigali, closely.
A new narrative
This year's theme, "African Year of Human Rights With Particular Focus on the Rights of Women", will shine a spotlight on Rwanda's efforts to promote women in government and the private sector. "It's a great opportunity for Rwanda to showcase another image to those who stick on a country of genocide," Havugimana says. On July 9, the day before the summit kicked off, President Paul Kagame received the Gender Champion Award from African Women Movements, a continental coalition of women's groups.
Africa's next MICE destination
Rwanda has hosted a string of high-profile events in 2016, including the African Nations Championship in January and the World Economic Forum on Africa in May. Taken together, the events demonstrate Rwanda's readiness to host global conferences and foreign dignitaries, including heads of states. The biggest test of all, however, will be the African Union Summit, which included 35 heads of state and other VVIPs (very, very important persons). Havugimana points out that hosting such an important event and high-profile clientele requires high standards and tight security. Pulling the event off successfully will help Rwanda market itself as top destination for future global conferences.