Rwanda readies to show the world a different face


ARUSHA, Tanzania (eTN) – Rwanda, the mountainous African tourist paradise, has been honored the host of ninth Leon Sullivan Summit in 2010, giving new hopes to this small African tourist destination whose history captured the tragic genocide 14 years ago.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, host of the just ended eighth Sullivan Summit, passed over the Leon H. Sullivan Summit torch to Rwandan President Paul Kagame before the closing of the high profile summit in northern Tanzania’s city of Arusha.

President Kagame, whose country is emerging from the tragic history of the 1994 genocide, promised to do all he could to live up to expectations of the 2010 summit, which will see his country raising its profile among the world tourist investments, among others.

The handing over of the torch was greeted with thunderous applause from the hundreds of delegates and officials of the five-day summit that opened here last Monday.

“I accept the honor,” said Kagame, on receiving the torch at a state banquet hosted by President Kikwete in honor of the summit. “We invite all of you, and all others who are not here, to Rwanda for the ninth Leon H. Sullivan Summit.”

Under President Kagame`s leadership, Rwanda has emerged the fast growing African nation, boasting of natural grandeur packed with scenic features and the world’s remaining rare mountain gorillas.

Mr. Kagame told the joyous summit delegates that the torch passed on was in safe hands just like it was in the Tanzanian case, promising to try to the best level to make the next covenant “The Summit of New Wills” and promised to make the 2010 Sullivan Summit a successful event.

“We invite all of you, distinguished guests gathered here as well as those who have been unable to attend this Summit to join us in Rwanda in the spirit of Rev Leon Sullivan,” he said.

He saluted the Leon Sullivan Foundation for its commitment and determination to organize the summits, which he said provided an opportunity to chart out strategies to foster Africa’s development. “The summits stress on Africa’s development and the promotion of corporate social responsibility. We share this vision and purpose,” he told the delegates.

The Tanzanian president handed over to his Rwandan counterpart the torch he had received two years ago from former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Five other African presidents and scores of other dignitaries were in attendance and discussed in plenary sessions on tourism development in the continent. They also discussed on infrastructure development.

Marketing itself as the “The country of a thousand hills,” Rwanda is dominated by green mountainous features and valleys connected to the western arm of the Great African Rift Valley.

The volcanic mountains, the Akagera plains in the east and the Nyungwe forest are part of natural tourist attractive features in Rwanda. The Nyungwe forest is unique in its ecological diversity that harbors thirteen species of primates which includes the black and white colobus monkey and endangered eastern chimpanzees.

Rwanda is also the home of a third of all the 650 mountain gorillas in the world. Gorilla tracking is by far the most tourist popular activity in this part of Africa.

The Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) has targeted 50,000 visitors to Rwanda up to end of this year. They are expected to generate some US$68 million as turnover. Some 70,000 visitors are further more expected in 2010 to earn this country some US$100million.

The Leon H. Sullivan Summit is held every other year in an African country, principally to nurture the African renaissance philosophy and initiatives seeking to build bridges through partnerships in trade and investments.

The summit targets Africans in Diaspora, especially the Americans of African origin.