Rwanda’s 4 challenges to become a leading meetings destination | The Planner
Nice Uwase, commercial director of the Kigali Convention Centre
Nice Uwase, commercial director of the Kigali Convention Centre

Following the launch of the Rwanda Convention Bureau ( in 2014, and the construction of the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC, which was completed in 2016, Rwanda has developed a reputation as one of Africa’s leading MICE destinations and continues to attract large international events – such as the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the 2022 International Conference on Public Health in Africa and the World Circular Economy Forum 2022.

The Planner Guru caught up with Nice Uwase, commercial director of the KCC, to find out more about the challenges they have needed to overcome to achieve this status. She shared the following four insights:

Challenge #1 Limited Air Connectivity

Limited air connectivity was a constraint for attracting large-scale events to Rwanda, says Nice. “To address the challenge of limited air connectivity, the Rwandan government has invested heavily in expanding and modernizing the country’s airports. These efforts have made it easier for international attendees and event organizers to access the Kigali Convention Centre,” she says.

RwandaAir, the country’s national carrier, now links the country to twenty-two cities in Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Other airlines that service the Kigali International Airport include Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

Challenge #2 Limited Capacity

Limited capacity was also a challenge for Rwanda in terms of its infrastructure for large-scale business events. Nice notes, “To address the challenge of limited capacity, the Kigali Convention Centre has invested in expanding its facilities to accommodate larger events. The centre has added additional meeting halls to meet the demand for larger events. Additionally, the centre has improved its technology and infrastructure to support the needs of larger events.”

Currently the KCC has a net floor space of 32 200 m² and can accommodate more than 5 000 delegates at a time. The dome shaped auditorium has a maximum capacity of 2 600, while a further 18 meeting rooms spread over different levels are also available.

The Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali is conveniently located alongside the convention centre, providing the ideal solution for multi-day events. It has 291 rooms available.

Kigali Convention Centre and the adjacent Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali
Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali and the adjacent Kigali Convention Centre

Challenge #3 High Costs

Another challenge the local MICE industry faces is the high cost of imports. Nice explains, “Landlocked borders contribute to high costs of services in the country due to the geographic nature of the border. Most suppliers face tariffs and taxes from neighbouring countries, which makes the cost of goods more expensive.”

Presumably, as the MICE sector grows and develops, so will the ability of established local suppliers and services to offer more competitive rates.

Challenge #4 Perceptions of Africa

Nice admits that many foreigners have negative perceptions of Africa as a destination for business and events, which means Rwanda needs to have a robust strategy to overcome these perceptions while marketing itself as a premium destination for business events.

To do so, she says the KCC works closely with local authorities to organize familiarization trips for event planners, journalists and influencers, to showcase the destination’s attractions. These efforts are ongoing, and involve different destination marketing organs in their different capacities, in order to represent the full traveller ecosystem.

Why host your meetings in Rwanda?
  1. Visas are issued on arrival
  2. Gallup reports it is the safest country in Africa and 4th safest in the world (2018)
  3. The weather is temperate all year round (24º – 27ºC)
  4. High speed 4G LTE wireless broadband is available in the major cities
  5. It has an impressive tourism landscape, including access to 1/3 of the worlds remaining endangered mountain gorilla population in the Volcanoes National Park

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