President Paul Kagame has Friday afternoon officially unveiled the region’s biggest convention center which he said had failed to take off in three attempts since 2009.
“Throughout the process we were failing and trying again but am very happy that today we stand here to celebrate the conclusion of immense work that has been put into this and can proudly look back on those efforts,” He said.
The facility also known as Kigali Convention Center is worth $300 million. It comprises of a five-star hotel with 292 rooms, a conference hall that can host 5,500 people, several meeting rooms, as well as an office park.
President Kagame arrived at the facility Friday afternoon and rolled off a cloth on a plaque at the entrance before addressing stakeholders, government officials and Rwandans watching live on television.
“True to the Rwandan spirit we tried to put up this facility many years ago we failed not once, twice, maybe three times but on the fourth trial we succeeded.”
The Convention Center was initially supposed to be complete and opened in 2011 but had to be postponed several times.
For President Kagame, this facility it wouldn’t have happened “had we not come together to make it work.”
He explained that the Rwandan spirit is in a sense that we have not failed for once; “We have failed many times…but we have succeeded many times than we have failed. We keep learning from our failures. This is what happened with this facility.”
Meanwhile, when government of Rwanda secured a deal to host the African Union Summit, the Convention Center was a more suitable venue to host this event. Construction works were therefore scaled up.
“It was an opportunity that put us under immense pressure to make sure that we succeeded to put up such a facility. It did no less than the many other efforts,” Kagame told guests including Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma AU Commission Chairperson.
According to President Kagame part of the drive to complete construction was “also because of pressure of opportunity that was presented to us by the AU offering us to host the AU summit in next few days. It wouldn’t have been possible except for the commission and chairperson.”
The architectural studies for the convention center were carried out by the Germany Company, Special Solution Consultants with the support of consultants who specialize in hotel concepts and designs.
German Architect Roland Dieterle that came-up with the project design in 2004 considered the dome structure of the Convention Center as most important element of the project.
“If you see the dome, many of us were born and housed in small huts like the dome. Its design has both cultural and emotional attachment to most of us,” President Kagame told guests.
According to Dieterle the multiple colour patterns of the facility reflect what he found among Rwandans. He noticed they were wearing coloured clothes (kitenge), “and our idea was to translate the tradition of how to wear clothes, particularly female dressing into the building.”
He believed that after Rwanda’s dark past, “we believe that bringing fresh colors, bright colors and also something which is delightful to people is something that is positive for the new identity of Rwanda.”
President Kagame considers the facility not only truly Rwandan but “it’s also multinational. Looking at the history of construction of this facility, it involved the Chinese, Germans and Turkish that brought it to a conclusion working with others including Rwandans.”
Kigali Convention Centre will host the 27th African Union summit between July 10-18.
Entrance to the Kigali Convention Centre