The 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) scheduled for later this year in Rwanda has been postponed due to coronavirus.
The Commonwealth Secretariat on Tuesday said the summit set to take place from June 22 – 27 had been pushed to a later date.
“The 26th CHOGM and associated events will be held in Kigali at a time to be announced in due course,” the Secretariat said in a statement.
“This decision was made in accordance with the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding Establishing the Commonwealth Secretariat and the CHOGM Technical Manual, as well as with precedent,” the Secretariat added.
Commenting on the development Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Kigali was looking forward to hosting the biennial summit post-coronavirus.
“In the coming months, every Commonwealth nation will be fully focused on combatting Covid-19 and its socio-economic impact on our people. Our organisation’s deep reservoirs of solidarity and expertise will be invaluable tools as we work together globally to ensure no country is left behind. We look forward to welcoming the Commonwealth family to Kigali for CHOGM once the pandemic has been defeated,” said President Kagame.
Rwanda and UK have recorded Covid-19 cases with both governments instituting tough lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
The summit was to host up to 52 heads of state, including the Prime Minister of UK Boris Johnson and the Queen’s representative, Prince Charles.
Rwanda was banking on fetching over $700 million from trade deals during the summit.
Hotels too were expected to benefit and had set aside at least 8,000 rooms for delegates.
In preparation, road upgrades and $10 million was spent on beautification of the city –while the government also scrapped visa requirements for citizens from Commonwealth countries, as it expected close to 7,000 delegates from across the world to fly in.
Government had also forecast revenue collections of up to $80 million from delegates’ expenditure during CHOGM 2020, which would be nearly the entire sum of $88 million targeted from the conference tourism sector for the year 2019/20.
CHOGM 2020 was billed to become Rwanda’s largest summit after the 2018 African Union Heads of State Summit—a landmark for the government following its heavy investment and focus on conference tourism.
The suspension of CHOGM 2020 also means that government will put on hold the launch of Kigali International Finance Centre (K-IFC), which was planned to be unveiled during the summit as a national special purpose vehicle to attract financial resources.