The President made the revelation on Wednesday 29th September 2021 during an interactive session that followed the official launch of Rwanda- Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference.
During the session moderated by Benson Mbewe, Kagame responded questions on Rwanda’s partnership with renowned football teams on Europe to market the country’s tourism attractions through ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign.
Arsenal and Rwanda Development Board (RDB) initially teamed up back in 2018 with Visit Rwanda becoming the Gunners’ official tourism partner, as well as the club’s first sleeve sponsor.
That contract was reportedly worth US$30 million over three years.
In 2019, Rwanda entered another partnership with Paris Saint-Germain based in France.
The partnership with Arsenal was extended this year but different people used different mainstream media and social media platforms to criticize the partnership saying the country is wasting money that would be used for other development projects.
Kagame said that people criticizing the partnership are not well informed.
“I don’t think those people know what they are talking about. The partnership we have with Arsenal has actually attracted more people who have brought to the country more money than we have given Arsenal. You don’t have to be a very sharp businessman. I am not one, but I think on this one, we got it right,” he said.
“I have seen some writings in the British papers, not written by Africans, but by those people there saying you know Rwanda is wasting our money because they give us aid. But even then, they are mistaken. If you give me aid, how do you want me to use it? Or why would you dictate to me how I use it. If you can give me 50 million and in using the 50 million, I am able to earn the country 300 million. Why would you blame me for that,” added Kagame.
After extending the deal with Arsenal, RDB announced that Rwanda’s tourism revenue by the end of the first year of the partnership increased by 17% to US$498 million in 2019 from US$425 million in 2018.
Leisure tourists from Europe increased by 22% and by 17% from the United Kingdom.
According to RDB, the renewed partnership will build on the gains made over the last 3 years and ‘contribute towards Rwanda’s economic recovery strategy following the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the tourism sector’.