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Let’s emulate Rwanda

By Fred Kaweesi

Added 18th January 2016 11:09 AM

The tourism sector is just one of several sectors that are already reaping from the tournament.

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The tourism sector is just one of several sectors that are already reaping from the tournament.

The Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) kicked off on Saturday in Kigali, Rwanda with a pompous opening ceremony.

The glamourous function and winning start against giants Ivory Coast hours after, were a just reward for the Rwf14 billion (sh71b) that
Rwanda have invested in the championship designated for local-based players.

My sources in Kigali, tell me the organisation has been splendid so far. And that by the time the championship ends, the thousands of fans
that travelled through with the 15 participating teams, will have first-hand accounts of how the ‘The Land of Thousand Hills’ has evolved over the years.

In the build-up to CHAN, Rwanda waived visa fees for all visiting fans. As a result, hundreds are still flocking through and not just for the football —but are already looking forward to visiting tourist sites such as the Volcanoes National Park — home to mountain gorillas and golden monkeys.

The tourism sector is just one of several sectors that are already reaping from the tournament.

In the end, the sh71b spent (which is 14 times Uganda’s annual sports budget), will have paled into insignificance. So why would a tiny country like Rwanda continue to think ‘big’ and a big country like Uganda continue to think ‘small’?

Sadly, Uganda has not even been in position to attract any of the participating teams for camping opportunities. With no facilities in Uganda, countries like Nigeria have opted to hold their training camps as far as South Africa.

Sport is a multi-billion dollar global industry that countries use as both a marketing and revenue tool for every sector. Investing in sporting events would guarantee more sports facilities, expanded airports, improved transport systems and employment opportunities.

At the end of CHAN, Rwanda will be rebranded as a tourist and business destination. How about Uganda? We need to start thinking big!

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