Feb 7, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Organisers put final touches as Kigali prepares for Commonwealth meeting

More than 100 Kigali hotels and five conference venues have been earmarked to host the Commonwealth Heads of Governments (CHOGM) while the entire event service provider ecosystem puts the finishing touches to prepare to host next month’s event.


Hospitality leaders have assured that the market has more hotel beds than are needed for the event, easing concerns about whether Rwanda will have enough accommodation for Chogm delegates.

“5,000 delegates are expected during the CHOGM meeting and we have almost 9,000 rooms in Kigali and Nyamata,” said Ariella Kageruka, Director of Tourism and Conservation Department at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

The country is mapping delegates to hotels near the events they will be attending to ease movement and access, said Frank Gisha, director general Rwanda’s Chamber of Tourism at the Private Sector Federation (PSF).

Routine inspections of facilities will continue to ensure delegates have the best experience, officials say.

“We have key stakeholders like the MasterCard Foundation, which supports the tourism sector, to make urgent interventions to address the service gaps that still exist,” said Mr. Gisha.

“The cash flow challenges of the past two years have impacted service quality at some facilities affected. Some have new employees with limited skills. Compliance with coronavirus protocols also had an impact. The customer hasn’t been quite king over the past two years.”

Mr. Gisha added that while it will take time for the behavioral and skill gaps to improve, the language has improved and the Tourism Chamber continues to bring in customer service professionals from around the world to support the sector.

Many service providers and suppliers needed for CHOGM’s success have already signed their contracts and sourced some of the equipment or products that they need for the event, with some struggling with freight transportation difficulties and skyrocketing prices.

An ecosystem of service providers – from tour operators, transport companies and event organizers to all suppliers who receive CHOGM tenders – will be coordinated by the line authorities to ensure the smooth running of the services.

Makuza Celestine, the owner of Events F actory, one of the events companies that received a bid to host one of the CHOGM events, says it has already sourced the equipment needed and everything is ready.

After two difficult years with no events post-lockdown Due to Covid many event organizers are relying on Chogm to help with their recovery. However, it has not been an easy road for a sector that is still financially strapped.

Some of the companies contacted to offer services or products needed for the Chogm meeting had to take out bank loans to be able to deliver.

“We have made [loans] to some of our customers who are involved in delivering or offering services at the upcoming Chogm meeting,” said Diane Karusisi , CEO of the Bank of Kigali.

Confirmed venues for Chogm include the Kigali Convention Center with a seating capacity of 2,600 guests and 650 parking spaces. The 1,257 square meter auditorium has two levels suitable for large conferences, concerts and meetings, and also features exclusive business lounges, bars and restaurants.

The other is the Intare Arena in Rusororo, which that can accommodate 2,316 delegates at a time, seated on a lush, sprawling site just outside of the city.

The Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village in the business district features its event tents, the largest of their kind in the country, and has been designed for international Events such as the World Economic Forum and the African Development Bank (AfDB) meeting are used.

It has 12 meeting rooms with a total capacity of 10,000 that can accommodate a variety of events, with individual meeting room capacities ranging from 10 to 3,200 people .

The Kigali Marriott Hotel was also selected as one of the Chogm venues. Its 13 conference rooms can accommodate more than 650 people each, and it is here that some of the VVIPs are expected due to its globally recognized brand.

The other venue will be the Serena Kigali Hotel, one of the five-star hotels with Meeting and conference rooms for all types of events. It has an 800-seat ballroom, a 500-seat auditorium and three meeting rooms that can accommodate more than 900 people.

The M-Hotel, which was completed last year, is already making a name for itself made inviting ambience. The conference rooms can accommodate more than 250 people and there will also be a Chogm event.