Inside Rwanda’s first ever ‘floating boat hotel’ building plant

On 22 November 2022 at 10:15

In the next few months, travel enthusiasts might eat roasted, fried or boiled fish, sardine fishes as well as other preferred meals and quench their thirst with drinks of their choice from the comfort of floating hotels in Lake Kivu.

The dreams are about to come into reality as Afrinest Engineering firm is in its final stages constructing a boat dubbed Mantis Kivu Queen Uburanga with a floating hotel. The 35-meter long boat has 11 cabins, restaurants, a bar and hot tub among others.

Construction of the boat has reached 85%. It is being constructed at the shores of Lake Kivu in Bwishyura Sector of Karongi District, few minutes from Karongi town along the road to Nyamasheke District.

Buranga Hugues Simba, the Site Supervisor at Afrinest Engineering plant has told IGIHE that the firm seeks to position itself as the leading builder of boats in Rwanda suited for various purposes.

The plant which has over 80 employees including Rwandans and foreigners, is manufacturing boats for passengers and tourists.

At its premises, one can see other boats brought there to be repaired. Buranga has told IGIHE that the project began towards the end of 2019 but operations were affected by COVID-19.

“The establishment of this plant followed a market research where it was mainly driven by the strong need and large demand of the boats. Secondly, security is guaranteed in Lake Kivu like other parts of the country,” he said.

The plant seeks to manufacture boats of various types to meet the demand in Rwanda but foreigners including Congolese have already expressed interest in having custom-made modern boats.

Afrinest Engineering also plans to manufacture 75-meter long boats, where some of them will have night clubs, several cabins and bars among others.

Buranga has explained that they started with tourists’ boat because it was much needed.

After the completion of Mantis Kivu Queen Uburanga, several boats with the same type are expected to follow.

The first boat of its kind will be handed over to Mantis, a hotel operator which provides sustainable and flexible hotel management solutions.

Buranga has revealed that setting up the plant in Karongi did not come by accident because the area has a large number of islands and other natural features reducing the pressure of wind where boats in the harbour and manufacturing facility will remain safe from effects of water waves.

According to Buranga, the project is part of a long-term investment as the company plans to have 300 employees in the next five years.

“The plant is here for long term not just to operate for three years and close. Our products will range from cargo boats, passenger boats, boats for tourists and recreational activities among others,” he said.

The plant is a joint venture between a foreigner and Rwandans who own majority shares.

Among others, the company mulls establishing a school to train the youth and other interested individuals in boating knowledge and skills.

Mantis Kivu Queen Uburanga will be the first boat hotel to sail on Lake Kivu.
Construction of the boat hotel has reached 85%.