In many ways, Rwanda has proven to be a role model for the rest of the continent. Over the years, the tiny East African nation has recorded impressive growth driven by bold ambitions and development efforts by the government.

The strategy is clear. As against the common practice of maintaining distinct income streams like most other African countries, Rwanda adopts a coordinated effort to diversify exports and revenue streams. One of the key pillars of this diversification is an increased focus on tourism, which has paid off well.

Growth in the sector is built on several initiatives and strategic collaborations, which has seen Rwanda rank among top conference destinations in Africa while opening up investment opportunities for local and international investors as well as creating thousands of jobs in the services industry.

One of such collaborations is the game-changing partnership signed with Premier League football club Arsenal in May 2018, turning around the fortunes of Rwanda’s tourism sector. Building on the award-winning deal, state tourism agency Visit Rwanda has now signed another that sees it become a Premium Partner of French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), considered the most successful club in French history.

“We invest part of our tourism revenues in strategic collaborations such as the one with Paris St Germain because we understand the positive effect they have on the overall perception of the country globally,” an executive of the Rwanda Development Board’s (RDB), Clare Akamanzi, said after the signing.

Arsenal FC player David Luis on a promotional visit to Rwanda. Photo credit: The New Times

Being a partner of PSG, a club that boasts the presence world-class players such as Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappé, Rwanda is looking to leverage the European club’s status to further boost its brand awareness on the global scale.

The three-year deal is reportedly worth between 8 and 10 million euros annually, in the same region as the agreement made with Arsenal. Similarly, PSG players will pay visits to Rwanda and help promote the country’s destinations, while Visit Rwanda will get rights to player access for promotional work.

The new partnership also provides visibility opportunities that will showcase Rwanda and Visit Rwanda on backdrop banners, stadium installations, the women’s team jerseys as well as on the warm-up kits for men. A club academy will be set up in the capital Kigali to help grow the country’s football, where PSG will cater to football development in Rwanda, nurturing and mentoring emerging talents.

French giants PSG players Neymar Jr and Marquinhos in Visit Rwanda warm-up kits. Photo credit: The New Times

While there are similarities between the promotional deals with both football clubs, the latest agreement offers a more comprehensive package which includes the promotion of a wide range of Made-in-Rwanda brands.

As Rwanda seeks externally-driven growth, which has propelled the services sector to become the major contributor to gross domestic product growth, the government has also taken efforts to boost local production. In line with this, the Made in Rwanda strategy was launched in 2016, an initiative that has reduced the trade deficit and increased the value of total exports.

A result of this is an empowered local manufacturing base with the capacity to produce for both the local and export market. And under the deal with PSG, the government is stepping up the push for increased exports of homegrown brands.

Rwandan tea and coffee will exclusively be sold at the home stadium of PSG – Le Parc des Princes – which has a capacity of about 48,000. This will be of huge benefit to local producers of the commodities as consumption of their products in the stadium will further drive demand in the European market.

The deal will also see local fashion and design gain visibility through the club while there will be a week-long display of Rwandan brands in Paris. “We are going to be working with PSG to select players in the Rwandan Fashion industry to elevate them and showcase them to the world using PSG platforms,” Akamanzi explained.

Rwandan art and culture are included as well. “Players in the creative industry such as Inema arts should be getting ready.  In addition to that, when we do our Paris week. We will be showcasing all the other industries,” she added.

Huge global brands with fan bases of millions in Europe and around the world, Rwanda capitalizing on Arsenal and PSG to increase its brand awareness. With the huge return on investment already recorded on the Arsenal deal, the latest agreement partnership sets the exemplary African nation up for a prolonged economic boom, especially in investment and tourism.


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