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East African States Ready for Visitors During Commonwealth Meeting

Rwanda President Paul Kagame with Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland - image courtesy of A.Tairo

East African states along with neighboring African regional nations are expecting a high number of visitors during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda next week. Slated for June 20 to 26, the CHOGM is expected to attract high-level delegates from Commonwealth members and non-members and raise East Africa’s tourism portfolio.

The East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki, said this week that Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda are members of the Commonwealth and thus, the deliberations, policies, and actions in this meeting are critical to the EAC regional bloc. Four partner states of the EAC are members of Commonwealth.

“It’s a huge privilege.”

“But also the fact that we have that capacity in East Africa to host such a huge meeting, I think it is something we need to be proud of. Our Secretariat will definitely participate,” Dr. Mathuki said.

Tanzania has joined other EAC member states and other participating nations from Africa and outside the continent to market Africa in all business aspects, mostly tourism and hospitality sectors.

The commonwealth business forum is expected to take place at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village to attract more than 300 regional business leaders who are set to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum, one of the major side events during CHOGM. The Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting in Kigali is as well expected to open more gateways for Eastern and Southern African countries to the world. More than 8, 000 guests, including leaders from 54 countries are expected to attend.

It is the second CHOGM to be held in Africa in the history of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The first such a meeting in Africa was held in Entebbe, Uganda, 15 years ago.

Several tourist hotels in Kigali and 5 conference venues have been earmarked to host the delegates with service providers making the final touches to host delegates and independent visitors next week, reports from Kigali said. More than 5,000 delegates are expected during the CHOGM meeting and 9,000 rooms have been set to host them, reports the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said.

The confirmed venues to host the CHOGM event include the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) which boasts a sitting capacity of 2,600 participants and 650 parking spaces. The KCC has a 1,257-square-meter auditorium with two levels designed for large conferences, concerts, and meetings. The space also has exclusive business lounges, bars, and restaurants. The venue has 12 meeting halls that can host a wide range of events, with a total capacity of 10,000 sittings with individual meeting room capacity ranging from 10 to 3,200 people.

Kigali Marriott Hotel been earmarked among the CHOGM hosting venues. The hotel has 13 conference rooms capable to host more than 650 people each. Serena Kigali Hotel, one of the 5-star hotels in Rwanda has meeting and conference rooms capable to host various events. It has an 800-seat ballroom, a 500-seat auditorium, and 3 meeting rooms that can accommodate more than 900 people. M-Hotel that opened its hospitality services last year has set itself to host guests during the CHOGM. The hotel’s conference rooms can accommodate more than 250 people.

Rwanda president Paul Kagame has invited delegates to the CHOGM and said his country is prepared for the event.

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Apolinari Tairo - eTN Tanzania

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