Construction of Kigali Cultural Village begins

Sunday February 19 2017

The site where the Kigali Cultural Village will be built in Kicukiro. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

The site where the Kigali Cultural Village will be built in Kicukiro. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

By Robert Mbaraga

The construction of the Kigali Cultural Village has finally started, several years on. Heavy machines are on the ground preparing for what promoters, say will be a living museum meant to preserve and display Rwanda’s cultural heritage.

“The project has four phases and the first, which is fully funded by the government has kicked off,” said Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at Rwanda Development Board, which is overseeing the project.

RDB has not said how much money has been invested in the first phase of this Rwf60 billion project. But said it will provide more details in two weeks. It is also not clear when the first phase will be completed.

According to RDB the village is aimed at “making Kigali a tourism destination for both local and international tourists.”

According to construction plans, the cultural village will have a conference hall with cinema theatres and galleria, a commercial and business centre, an eco–zone, a high-end eco-lodge and entertainment facilities with a capacity of 15,000 people.

Located in Rebero Peak, in Kicukiro District, just 10km from the Kigali city centre, the village is projected to be the ideal place for an introduction to to Rwandan culture and lifestyle.

Its location is seen as being strategic due to its clear view of the city.

Concept for the cultural village started in 2009 at a National Leaders’ Retreat, but implementation was hindered by a lack of a potential investor.

RDB had said construction would begin after it had identified a potential investor, but the board said none had been identified and so it seems the government will fund it alone.

“Our focus now is on the first phase and the ongoing construction works,” said Ms Kariza.

The first phase of the project is set to be complete by this year according to RDB and “the way forward will be decided after completion of this stage.”

Construction of the Kigali Cultural Village is part of the government’s plans to increase tourism revenue as it the country’s largest foreign exchange earner.

“Development of Kigali Cultural Village is expected to diversify the tourism product in Rwanda and play a critical part in increasing the length of stay of tourists and overall per capita spend,” the project outline reads.

So far, tourist attractions in Rwanda have been focused on high-income gorilla tracking luxury tours at the Akagera National Park and Nyungwe tropical forest.

According to RDB, the disadvantage of this approach is its restricted choice for tourists leading to a relatively low length of stay, which “currently averages five nights.”

It is anticipated that once complete, the project will generate an average annual turnover of $91.9 million over a 10-year period.

Last year the Ministry of Sports and Culture said it would partner with RDB in this project to build an entertainment facility, which is expected to solve the scarcity of performing arts venues in the country.