Domenicali meets Kagame

Stefano Domenicali had a quiet meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Sunday. There as been vague talk for some time about a possible F1 race in Rwanda and with problems impacting the recent bid from South Africa, Rwanda might be in a position to step in. I reported on this in my JBSM newsletter back in April, in he following terms: “The country is located in the Great Rift Valley, just south of the Equator, between Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly known as Zaire).

“It is best known internationally for its civil war in 1994 during which hundreds of thousands of the Tutsi tribe were killed by rival Hutus, following the killing of President Juvénal Habyarimana (a Hutu), when his plane was shot down by a ground-to-air missile. The war ended when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi organisation, overthrew the government. Since then the country has been politically stable under President Paul Kagame, who led the RPF, who took power in 2000. He won a landslide victory in elections in 2003 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2017. Under his leadership the country has prospered with GDP per capita going from $631 in 2000 to $2,214 in 2020.

“Kagame’s plan is for the country to become a upper-middle income country by 2035, and a high-income nation by 2050, as a result of a transformation from agricultural to a knowledge-based economy. Kagame sees Singapore as a role model for economic development. The country was deemed by the World Bank in 2020 to be the second easiest place in Africa to do business. It has also scored highly on the Corruption Perception Index, which rated it the fourth best country in Africa and was deemed the second safest country in Africa in a Gallup Global Law and Order report in 2018.

“The country wants to build up a luxury eco-tourism industry and more than $1.5 billion has been invested in developing the sector.”

It is no surprise therefore that Kagame was in Singapore last weekend, on a three-day visit to Singapore to “deepen bilateral ties”.

22 thoughts on “Domenicali meets Kagame

  1. The problem with Rwanda is that its stability really rests on the head of one person. If a bunch of disgruntled army officers decide that they could run the place better, then the whole country could rapidly descend into chaos, just like Burkina Faso.

    1. So very true, he is not everyone’s cup of tea but he has maintained peace and seen a real change in living standards, but many do not like his methods. He is showing signs of the Indian route of being the first post colonial leader to look forward and look backwards.

    1. Why?

      Is there some reason why Dimenicalli shouldn’t be discussing hosting an F1 event in Africa?

      The last F1 race in Africa was 1993 in South Africa.

      For as global sport it seems odd there is no racing in that continent.

      Truly would like to know why it shouldn’t happen.

  2. Kagame sure seems to be heading in the correct direction for the country and its people.
    It would be great to have them rewarded with a place on the F1 calender.
    I would defiantly consider an F1 race and a visit to the country if it keeps heading in the this way.

  3. Worth also mentioning that Rwanda has been in the UK news this year due to the UK Government’s attempts to implement a program of transporting migrants there. Also, Premier League club, Arsenal continue to display Rwandan logo on their first team match shirts. The country is clearly attempting to raise its profile.

  4. Joe,

    I appreciate the scuttlebutt, as always.

    I’d be interested to hear what you know about ROKiT, the company that has a habit of agreeing to sponsor women in motorsport and then forgetting to send the money. Claire Williams, Tatiana Calderon, and now W Series all seem to have been stiffed by this phone/vodka/”marula oil”/etc. company. Why do people keep signing deals with ROKiT?

    I think a lot of people would be interested to hear more about the shady workings of motorsport finance in general, if it ever makes for relevant Notebook material.

    Cheers.

    1. Williams were ultimately awarded $35.7m from ROKiT in court 9 months ago (although I’ve no idea if it has been paid); it is interesting to wonder if, had they paid what they owed at the time, the Williams team might not have been sold.

      1. Ah yes, I remember CW’s smug “luckily we realised Rich Energy was a scam and signed with Rokit instead”…

  5. Rwanda’s GDP is 10 billion dollar per year. Slightly more than Monaco with 24 000 citizens.

    Investing in a circuit in Rwanda would at least mean a construction cost of 100 Million $ (1% of the country’s GPD)
    The yearly race hosting fee (with a discount) would be 25 m$, (i.e. 0,25% of the country’s GDP every year).
    To give it a sense of scale, for England, the hosting fee would need to be 8 billion $ every year to represent 0.25% of the GDP.

    Is this realistic for such a small economy to host an F1 race ?

    1. Agree the trough of greed runs deep. Why care about where the money come from just take the money. Where next Mozambique? North Korea?. This was reported in April. It was not a leg pull?. Plus it is UK not England.

      1. Mozambique and Angola both had great traditional circuits that could be redeveloped with a bit of money.

        Benguela in Angola is very much of the period it was developed (early 1970’s) but with the infield it could be a good circuit.

    2. The country is aiming to attact foreign money either in the form of investment or tourism. Hosting an F1 event would be expensive but it would be quite possible to see a return on that level of investment if the publicity generated is handled correctly. Look at Azerbaijan. I’d hardly heard of it until they hosted a F1 race, but now it is somewhere I want to visit on holiday.

    3. They could use some of the £125,000,000 that the UK government has given them as a down payment on taking illegal immigrants and asylum seekers from the UK

  6. My first thought is I wonder how the $2000 per ticket price tag for premium grandstand (my actual price for turn 1 seats in Miami) and $5500 entry level hospitality will go over in Africa? Maybe they will be more sensible than us in the USA to pay that kind of money to be stand in line for $5 waters and be stuck in traffic for 2hrs. I think F1 has a bigger issue on their hands with rapidly increasing unaffordability with the price to enjoy a live race only being reserved for those with means. I guess a person could be one of the “groundlings” in general admission and fight to place a lawn chair at 6am on race day…

    I guess the celebrities in Rwanda deserve a good grid walk too.

  7. Has F1 not got enough “skeleton” tracks in vastly wealthier countries ? And more proposed ! A little bit of moral responsibility would not go amiss.
    There is only one way that the proposed number of races allied to the budget restrictions can be sustained and that would be to have spec vehicles, shan’t call them cars. This may suit the wham, bam, thank you Ma’am instant thrill seekers but is miles away from the essence of F1. Even Bernie never proposed such a concept but the US money grubbers do not appear at all interested in such considerations.
    In my opinion there should be a 40 week season of 20 races. This would require 1 or 2 double headers to permit a mid season break. A 12 week “winter” would allow a barely adequate final design, build and development period plus Christmas break. The current first test sessions on nearly frozen tracks are of limited value. And why not have paying spectators at these tests many real fans would be delighted ?
    Having run distribution companies that purchased from here, there and everywhere I know that once air or sea freight, as opposed to just vehicles, are involved the time and costs involved are not hugely different from one another.
    I’m all for having more US exposure but the grotty little car park tracks, unknown celebs and general grandstanding are all pointing in one sad direction. And yes I am an old f*** but it also means I’ve been round the block 2 or 3 times.

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