By Julius Bizimungu
Rwanda is looking to nearly double its revenues from conference tourism, Clare Akamanzi, the chief executive of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has said.
Last year, the country collected a total of $42 million (about Rwf36.3 billion) from 192 conferences.
This year’s target is $74 million (Rwf64 billion), the official said.
“We have a target of increasing our MICE (Meetings Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) receipts to US$74 million this year, up from US$42 last year,” Akamanzi said.
She was addressing the media at RDB head offices in Kigali yesterday.
With five months to go, the Government says it has already collected more than 50 per cent of the targeted revenue from conference tourism this year.
Rwanda has in recent years been actively investing in the MICE sector with hope it could generate economic value for the country as well as raise its profile as a destination for business.
Meanwhile, Akamanzi also spoke about the upcoming 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum slated for next year in March.
“As RDB we are very excited to partner with the organizers (Jeune Afrique Media Group) to bring the forum to Rwanda, because it responds to our priorities in Rwanda,” she said.
“As you know Rwanda has prioritised MICE as one of the drivers of economic growth and the Government has invested in infrastructures like the (Kigali) Convention Centre and the national airline. We have invested in hotels, and have attracted the private sector to support the value chain of the conference tourism”.
According to RDB, Rwanda attracted a record $1.6 billion (Rwf1.3 trillion) in private sector investments last year. The Board targets $2 billion (Rwf1.7 trillion) this year.
“To achieve this, it means interacting with businesses and the private sector. We believe by hosting this forum we have an opportunity to advance MICE but we also have an opportunity to showcase Rwanda as a place to do business,” she noted.
According to Amir Ben Yahmed, Managing Director, Jeune Afrique Media Group, next year’s edition of Africa CEO Forum is expected to attract about 1500 top executives and business leaders from across the continent.
He noted that most of the delegates that will attend the event are influential African chief executives and members of the investment community from France, Japan, Germany, US, and China, among others.
“It is undeniably one of the most important business events in Africa,” Yahmed said.
The Forum is one of the leading global gatherings of business and finance leaders in the private sector.
Organisers said they have recently started bringing together leaders from the public sector to interact with business leaders.
At next year’s forum, which will take place March 25-26, a dedicated session will focus on doing business in Rwanda, organisers said.