Rwanda Earned $88 Million from Conference Tourism Versus $260 Million Remittances from Overseas Rwandans in 2019

By David Himbara

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Man in full charge – Rwanda head of state, General Paul Kagame

The government of General Paul Kagame spent over $1 billion to build the national airline, RwandAir, Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), and the Kigali Arena. The government claimed that these mega infrastructures were pillars upon which to lift Rwanda from poverty to prosperity. These infrastructures would support conference tourism comprising of Meetings, International Conferences, and Events (MICE) activities. MICE activities were to earn Rwanda $150 million a year by 2015 and thereafter continue to increase annually. Rwanda would soon recover its $1 billion investment, becoming the conference tourism hub in the eastern and central African region. This did not happen. In 2019, conference tourism earned Rwanda $88 million. In contrast, money sent by the Rwandan diaspora to Rwanda was $260 million in 2019 – three times larger than conference tourism earnings.

The money Overseas Rwandans send back home hit the $260 million mark in 2019

The amount of money sent by overseas Rwandans to their homeland is nearly three times larger than what the government earns from MICE. Funds from overseas are what is known as personal remittances consisting of cash or in-kind transfers. The value of personal remittances transferred to Rwanda continues to rise each year. In 2019, personal remittances to Rwanda amounted to $260 million, as was the case in 2018. Personal remittances to Rwanda totalled to $1.8 billion between 2010 and 2019. The figures drawn from the World Bank data for annual personal remittances in the 2010–2019 period are as follows:

  • 2019: $260 million
  • 2018: $260 million
  • 2017: $215 million
  • 2016: $172 million
  • 2015: $159 million
  • 2014: $183 million
  • 2013: $170 million
  • 2012: $182 million
  • 2011: $174 million
  • 2010: $106 million

As indicated here, the funds received from overseas Rwandans by far outstrips the money earned by MICE activities on which the Kagame government spent over $1 billion to promote. If Rwanda were a normal country, the General would have to account for this insanity.

General Paul Kagame is Synonymous with Mega Failures

General Kagame likes to say that he ”thinks big.” This is true. Currently, his government says it is pursuing nuclear power to fight energy poverty in Rwanda. The government says it sent satellites into the skies to take internet broadband to rural Rwanda. Recall the mirage known as Vision 2020 through which Rwanda was supposed to become a middle-income economy by 2020. MICE is similarly delusional – and headed into the heap of mega failures.