Rwanda is set to open the much-anticipated Kigali Arena, one of Africa’s largest indoor stadia that will host major regional and international sports events as well as meetings, conferences, exhibitions and concerts.
The 10,000-seat facility is the product of a joint venture between the Rwandan government and global construction company, Summa, as part of efforts to expand the country’s sports infrastructure. Construction on the arena commenced in January employing over 1000 workers. Once completed, the stadium will be a major upgrade from the existing 2,500-seater Amahoro Indoor Stadium, which has failed to entice companies to sponsor teams and competitions due to its small capacity.
Kigali Arena joins a host of other state-of-the-art indoor arenas around the continent, including the Cairo Stadium Indoor Halls Complex in Egypt, which has the largest indoor arena in the entire African continent with a 20,000 seating capacity, and South Africa’s Ticketpro Dome, which hosts numerous national and international events like the NBA Africa Game, musical concerts, conferences, among others.
“Kigali Arena presents a big opportunity to attract international basketball tournaments, and that would position Rwanda as the leading sport tourism destination in the region. Our players will have a chance to access a high-standard facility, and that will – in many ways – improve their knowledge and skills in the sport,”Pascale Mugwaneza, the Vice-President of Rwanda Basketball Federation.
The Kigali arena is expected to host the 2020 NBA Africa league, as well as, the 2019 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship for girls in August this year, which will be the first international tournament to be hosted at the modern venue. Should Rwanda also win the bid to host the 2021 FIBA Africa Basketball Championships (Afrobasket), Kigali Arena will host the competition – the continent’s biggest basketball meet.
“We have long wished to host major international volleyball competitions but we could not get that chance because we had no qualified facilities. It was a big challenge. Kigali Arena is a timely addition to our indoor sports infrastructure; it comes when needed the most. We, the volleyball fraternity, had even thought of contributing to it, but the Government had it sorted.”Léandre Karekezi, president of the Rwanda Volleyball Federation (FRVB)