Members of Rwanda’s gaming industry have welcomed a government decision to gradually reopen gaming activities after more than a year of closure as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Monday cleared the reopening gaming operations in a gradual manner, upon players fulfilling the necessary COVID-19 measures to ensure a safe reopening.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM) is expected to issue detailed guidelines on how gaming activities will resume operations but players in the industry are already relieved after months of lamenting to the government to consider their plight.
Safari Gahizi, the President of Rwanda Gaming Association (RGAA), said the cabinet decision was timely and will go a long way to save the country’s nascent gaming industry which was on the verge of collapsing.
“We are very delighted by the cabinet decision. It confirmed that MINICOM and the Government in general heard our pleas. The fact that they considered us for reopening makes us happy,”
“The Ministry will do an assessment on the guidelines for us to reopen and we are ready to comply. This decision will boost the confidence of the investors in the industry and attract more investment,” Gahizi told KT Press.
Gahizi said they will work with government authorities to ensure that they reopen safely and continue efforts to combat the pandemic.
“All in all, this is good news for the investors in the industry, for workers who were redundant, for property owners who had lost revenues and also for the tax collecting body and the country in general. We really want to thank our government for considering us,” Gahizi said.
He said they have already come up with measures and safe protocols which they have already shared with MINICOM, showing how they plan to resume operations in a safe environment.
Owners of gaming and betting businesses recently appealed to the government to come to their rescue and lift some of the restrictions to allow them to operate with precautions, if not, they risked closing completely.
Rwanda Gaming Association, a body which brings together 17 players in the gaming industry, said that members were not able to meet rent, salaries, transportation, nutrition and even healthcare costs, leading to many laying off workers or closing shop.
The organisation said that more than 5,000 direct and indirect employees of the gaming industry have been put out of work while landlords of the more than 1, 000 gaming premises, from which they were earning Rwf300m monthly, have also lost their source of income.