Rwanda is looking to tap into the $44.6bn global golf tourism market with the new 18-hole Kigali Golf Course, which was unveiled on Sunday, which the country hopes will attract international golfing events in the near future.
The Nyarutarama/Kacyiru-based course, which sits on 52 hectares of land, was launched by Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course Ltd, an investment subsidiary of Rwanda Social Security Board Sunday (RSSB), becoming the latest addition to facilities ramping up Rwanda’s ambition to become a MICE hub.
Speaking at the launch of the sports facility, the Director General of RSSB, Regis Rugemanshuro, said that golf course, in which the pension body has invested Rwf17.7bn so far, is expected to rake in revenues into the country, by claiming a share of the global golf tourism market, where Africa remains at the backfoot.
“The global golf tourism market grows by 11 annually. If you look around the African continent, currently the numbers show that there are 932 golf courses, including those still under construction, which does n’t even constitute 2 percent of the golf courses in the world,”
“Of those, 52 percent are in South Africa. The majority of these courses are 9-hole and do not meet international standards,” Rugemanshuro said, adding that Rwanda saw an opportunity to invest in one that could attract international events.
The modern course designed by South African golf legend, Gary Player, boasts of 9 lakes, 23 bridges, three rain shelters, drainage systems, a member’s club, a hallway house and an underground tunnel connecting both sides of the course.
The course, which was built by French company Gregory International Construction, with the first phase of the project completed in 15 months, is now open to players.
According to Josue Dushimimana, the Managing Director of UGOLF, it meets all the technical aspects of professional golf courses, right from the grass, drainage systems, maintenance and other features, which positions it among the best on the continent.
RSSB took over the facility from Kigali Golf Club, an association of golfers, which previously ran it, valued at Rwf16.8bn at the time, before committing another Rwf17.7bn to upgrade it to its current status. The course is currently valued at Rwf34.5bn
The ambitious project, which will also entail a 5-star resort and executive villas surrounding the course, is expected to be completed in 2025 and will be valued at Rwf145bn upon completion.
According to Rugemanshuro, the value of the course will continue to grow and they hope to draw in investors to be part of the project which the government envisions as a major tourist attraction.
“We have already been approached by some investors who want to be part of the project, particularly plans to establish a 5-star hotel and other facilities,”
“We are doing a feasibility study and at the end of September we will have the terms of reference, of what we expect of those who want to be part of the project,” Rugemanshuro said.
Rugemanshuro said that the golf course project has been well thought of to ensure that it is profitable not just for the country but the people too, assuring citizens that their social security contributions are well taken care of and will bear fruit.
Over 500 people were employed during the construction of the first phase while a portion of the investment went to acquiring land in the neighbouring community for the expansion of the course which overlooks the high-end Vision City and the lush green Nyarutarama environs.
Rugemanshuro said the course is expected to change the face of Kigali and will be a major attraction of international events, adding to other facilities like Kigali Arena and the Gahanga Cricket Stadium, all of which incentivize Rwanda’s MICE strategy and vision.