By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame is a diehard fan of the English League football club, Arsenal. Evidently, he has found a way of forming a commercial relationship with the team. Kagame and Arsenal have signed what is being reported as “the biggest sleeve sponsorship contract in the Premier League.” According to SPORTSNEWS, Rwanda will pay Arsenal £10 Million a year. Other reports say this is a three-year deal, which adds to £30 Million or US$39 Million in three years.
What’s in the deal for Rwanda?
Rwanda gains two things. Firstly, Arsenal players will wear on their sleeves during football games ”Visit Rwanda.” Apparently, in a typical game, some 35 million viewers watch Arsenal. Kagame sees as a means to advertise Rwanda’s tourism. Secondly, as part of the deal, Arsenal players will coach Rwandan youth. Kagame sees this as a means of developing football in the country.
Comparisons of similar schemes reveal something interesting
SPORTSNEWS gives us an insight into comparisons. Kagame-Arsenal deal surpasses Chelsea’s £6m-a-year (US$8 Million) agreement with Hyundai and Manchester City’s partnership. Evidently, Kagame is generous with his favorite team — Arsenal. Perhaps we shall learn more about this.
Two questions for Kagame
The first question is this. What kind of morality does Kagame espouse? It is possible that Kagame did not have a hand in this transaction involving his favorite team? Not likely — which confirms the fact that Kagame runs Rwanda as a personal property. This whole thing smells of moral corruption.
The second question is about development priorities. Rwanda Vision 2020 is in shambles. With one and half years before 2020 when Rwanda was supposed to become a middle-income country, Rwanda remains a member of the poorest of the poor with per capita income of US$702. Rwanda suffers one of the highest energy poverty rates in the world. Some 20 percent of Rwanda’s pathetic 216 Megawatts is lost due to dilapidated transmission infrastructure. How does Kagame spend US$39 Million on an English football club when the country has less electricity than a single Google data center? This is insane.