President Paul Kagame on Friday evening inaugurated the Kigali Arena, and reminded Rwandans that this area is not just a decoration to be visited on Christmas and New Year but that it was built to host the best basketball players of Rwanda and Africa, for them to train, play and win.
This multibillion complex is expected to host the 2021 FIBA Men’s Africa Basketball Championship aka AfroBasket 2021 following Rwanda’s successful bid last July to host the championships.
It is a state-of-the-art events and sports facility with the capacity to host 10,000 spectators.
The brand new stadium is the centrepiece of Rwanda’s indoor sporting infrastructure.
President Kagame also paid tribute to the “Giants of Africa” who were an inspiration to the project.
“Africa has giants and we must behave like giants. We built this Arena for you to train, play, win games and make Rwanda proud. Now go and be great,” he said.
“I thank the people of Summa who were contracted to build this Arena. They did good work, night and day and they finished it only in six months. It is also important to note that 70% of the workforce that put up this Arena were Rwandans,” he said.
President Kagame also thanked Masaji Ujiri, President of Toronto Raptors, who brought the idea of developing the game of basketball in Africa and moving it forward.
The idea was later supported by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as well as Amadou Fall.
The funding for Kigali Arena was jointly provided by the government of Rwanda and Summa.
It consists of four main entrance zones – the VIP entrance, media entrance, general entrance and teams entrance.
The construction was already completed by July 5 and the parking area was later finalized.
The complex had a total of 1,700 workers, among them, 500 were Turkish.
Kigali Arena boasts several attractive zones inside, including six changing rooms for the teams, one fitness centre, 13 cafeteria and restaurants, a media hall and a modern doping control room.
According to Global Construction Review, the Turkish contractor, Summa, already has a history of delivering fast-track international projects.
It completed Dakar Arena in Senegal (sprawling across 35,000 square metre) in less than a year and constructed the Kigali Convention Centre in just 11 months.
The completion of Kigali Arena has emerged with several opportunities to host national and international events (sports, cultural, etc.).
It is the largest indoor arena in the East African region and one of the top 15 on the continent.