Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Sunday, August 27 announced a new sponsorship deal with German football giants Bayern Munich, marking a continued effort to position Rwanda as a premier tourist destination.
The collaboration signifies Rwanda’s sponsorship of three prominent European clubs, with Arsenal and Paris Saint Germaine being the other beneficiaries. A common question often arises when discussing such sponsorship agreements: do they yield substantial returns on investment?
Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), spoke with The New Times but couldn’t disclose the specific financial figures involved due to confidentiality clauses. Nevertheless, she emphasized that these partnerships have indeed provided favorable returns on investment by attracting more tourists, investors, and fostering other beneficial collaborations.
Akamanzi highlighted Rwanda’s remarkable recovery in the tourism sector post-pandemic, surpassing global averages. “When you look at how we recovered from the pandemic compared to the world average, you notice that Rwanda reached 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels by 2022. This was higher than the world average of 65 percent,” she noted. “I believe the reason we were able to recover faster than the world average was because of the investments and commitments we have put into driving tourism. That includes marketing Rwanda abroad and the partnerships we have with countries and clubs like Arsenal and PSG.”
The tourism industry continues to be one of Rwanda’s fastest-growing sectors, consistently generating millions of dollars in revenue each year.
The latest tourism data reveals that Rwanda generated $247 million in the first half of 2023, a remarkable 56 percent increase compared to the same period in 2022.
According to RDB’s 2022 annual report, tourism revenues surged by 171.3 percent, from $164 million in 2021 to $445 million (approximately Rwf496 billion) recorded in 2022. This growth represents a remarkable 89.3 percent recovery compared to the pre-Covid-19 pandemic era.
The report also disclosed that Rwanda welcomed over 1.1 million international visitors in 2022.
Akamanzi anticipates 2023 to be a stellar year for tourism, potentially surpassing pre-pandemic levels. “We think this is going to be the year where we will outperform pre-pandemic levels. We grew by 56 percent in the first half of the year, and I believe we will exceed the performance of 2019, which was the best year prior to the pandemic,” she said.
Teddy Kaberuka, an economic analyst, told The New Times that the return on investment from such deals should not solely be measured in economic gains, as there are other unquantifiable advantages.
“Beyond attracting tourists and foreign investors, there are other advantages which are increasing year by year,” he explained. He cited the numerous international meetings and conferences currently held in Rwanda, along with developments in the sports sector, such as the establishment of academies to enhance Rwandan youth’s skills.
“With these deals, we may see more academies coming to Rwanda in the near future. Sports is a sector that we should not overlook when discussing return on investment,” he emphasized.
Daniel Amateye Anim, a Ghanaian economist, pointed out that many countries employ their national football teams to promote themselves, attract tourism, and stimulate investment. This, he mentioned, might not be straightforward for Rwanda given its current standing in the sporting arena.
“Rwanda is not yet a football powerhouse on the continent, so leveraging partnerships with the French league, the German Bundesliga, and the English Premiership is a substantial platform that opens up the nation to tourism and foreign direct investments,” he said.
He added that although the upfront investment in such sports sponsorship deals might appear substantial, the subsequent long-term economic benefits could justify Rwanda’s participation.