Omotayo Edubi, Abuja
Dennis Benzinge Omani, CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau is tactical business unit of Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department. The company that helps the government to organize events that goes into Rwanda, specifically on the mile sector
Dennis talks about the upcoming Amar event happening in Rwanda, art, tourism and culture of Rwanda
Could you briefly tell us about you, and what you do?
My name is Dennis Omany, and I am the CEO Rwanda Convention Bureau. The Rwanda Convention Bureau helps the government to organize events that come into Rwanda, specifically on the M.I.C.E (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) sector, that’s what we do.
At the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMMA), what role do you intend to play?
We’ve signed a memorandum of understanding with AMAA to host the event in Rwanda on the 22nd of September. We see AMAA coming into Rwanda as an opportunity for us to grow the M.I.C.E. sector as well, because it fits within our agenda for M.I.C.E. Within the M.I.C.E., entertainment and event is one of those of the things that are part of M.I.C.E. So we see it as part of what we are supposed to be doing within that sector. We are quite excited to have AMAA come to Rwanda this year, because we also see an opportunity of growing that sector. We are hoping that a lot is being done to be able to attract people into Rwanda. Again we believe that because Rwanda is a destination that’s currently attracting a good number of people for many reasons. But we hope it’s for the right reasons in this case. As a destination, we believe we are an attractive destination. We believe that our tourism is one of the thing that everybody is interested in seeing, and perhaps even understanding why Rwanda has changed its narrative, and that is a very important point for us.
How much has Rwanda changed his narrative, in terms of art, entertainment and culture and tourism?
The art and entertainment is a growing sector. We have a lot of young people who are within that sector; we believe would perhaps have a lot to learn from AMAA. But we also believe that with AMAA coming in terms of growing the film industry in Rwanda, it’s a partner, and we have already put them in contact with the partners on the ground, in the film industry. The music industry is a growing industry. We hope that there would be a lot of influence. We intend to get a number of artistes that come out of Nigeria. In this case, specifically whom we believe will have a lot of influence on our own. So, we are looking forward to that opportunity.
What specific influences you are looking at?
Rwanda is a bit like Cape Town. In scenery we know that Cape Town, Botswana, Namibia, they all have a lot of people coming there to have fun. We are hoping that the rest of the world will see Rwanda for the value it brings to the filmmaking industry across the world as a location for films and based on the infrastructure which is already built. For AMAA, it is visa on arrival for the whole of the world, and that’s the major ease. AMAA already has one set of training on social media for creative industry entrepreneurs and this was basically to get them to activate a trend of people talking about why AMMAr is coming to Rwanda. For the AMAA and the RCB, it’s really like how do we make sure the creative entrepreneur see Rwanda as a destination of choice within Africa.
We’ve talked about trainings for different platforms, are we seeing some of the end product of these trainings feature as part of the AMAA celebration?
Maybe next year. You know that Rwanda did very well in this year’s Berlin Biennale. Their film came second in the Silverbear, and that’s for a country that hasn’t really got a film industry.
You work for the government, how much support does the creative industry enjoy from the government?
Well, I want to speak not specifically on government. I’m aware that the Ministry of Youth and Culture is very supportive of the creative industry and that enables all the youths to be able to access what they need. I can’t say specifically how much or what, because again, it’s not my directive industry. But I’m aware that whatever is required in terms of what government support is required to offer, I believe we have it in place. Having a Ministry of Youth and Sport is an opportunity to be able to support all those within that sector.
How much preparations are underway towards hosting AMAA?
We have already agreed on facilities and will be hosting it in the best we have within Kigali which is the Kigali Convention Centre. It’s currently the best, I believe south of the Sahara.
Many Nigerians know ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ the movie. Are there tourism packages, guests can explore to see the new Rwanda?
That’s right. I hope hotel Rwanda is not what is on people’s minds, because as I said, that narrative has changed. We want people to be able to come and discover Rwanda’s tourism which is one of the best you can get. We have different packages that will be available for anyone who would want to explore. Above all, we believe our airline runs the flights from Abuja and Lagos will be able to carry as many people from their destination to come to Kigali. Rwanda has some of the best hotel and parks, it isn’t actually a major brand that isn’t in Rwanda and also one of the things that make Rwanda fine is the security. That’s one of the thing people can always look for and if you want to go to a different location, you can go see the gorillas. You can go to the mountain side, there are different things to enjoy.
Beyond visa on arrival, have they offer synergies with the government to ensure that perhaps visitors will get probably cheaper hotels?
Rwanda is actually relatively cheap, compared to Nigerian and other countries. It is affordable so everyone will be able to identify what category of tourism package they want to subscribe for if they look on ticket.ama-awards.com. It’s been done in such a way that it is affordable and it’s in dollar