By Elias Hakizimana
The University of Tourism, Technology and Business Management (UTB) has embarked on a project consisting of erecting new varsity building at Rebero site in Kigali, and renovating facilities at its branch located in Rubavu District, an activity that is set to cost Rwf15 billion.
The new building will accommodate a hotel to help students in hospitality industry get relevant practical skills and facilitate their industrial attachment without going abroad as it has been the case since 2012, hence saving both time and money as well as ensuring efficiency in service delivery.
The university offers Bachelors of Hotel and Restaurant Management, Bachelor of Travel and Tourism Management, Bachelor of Business Information Technology, Bachelors of Business Management and Bachelors of transport and Logistics Management among others.
In an exclusive interview with The Inspirer’s Journalist, Elias Hakizimana, UTB Vice Chancellor Callixte Kabera explained the rationale behind the establishment of new campus premises, and what the move means to the university’s activities given the growing number of students, both local and foreign, seeking enrolment in it.
Kabera said that the new building will accommodate a hotel to help students in hospitality industry get relevant practical skills and facilitate their industrial attachment without going abroad. (Photo By Elias Hakizimana).
Here are the excerpts:
What is the rationale for the construction the new building?
The current premises cannot accommodate the growing number of students, both Rwandans and foreigners, who are requesting to study here at UTB. There is a huge need based on the demand of students who are coming and therefore there is a need to build our own premises which can effectively accommodate all those students.
The core value of this university in training is on Hospitality, Tourism, and Technology which need quality facilities.
Currently, UTB has 18 nationalities from different countries coming there and they include Indians, Nigerians, South-Soudanese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Ugandans, Kenyans, Burundians, Congolese from DRC, etc.
All the students from different countries want a place where they can study and stay without going to seek rent from here and there as it is not a conducive environment for them.
Furthermore, there is also a growing number of parents and sponsors who want also students to study in a conducive environment while boarding at school.
This [situation] also is pushing us to have hostels, and therefore, we are planning to have a hostel that will accommodate at least 400 students for the moment.
The campus will accommodate between 6,000 and 8,000 students, a big population that will be pursuing studies, and seeking different services.
We would like to know about the components of the building, what will it consist of?
We need to have the state-of-the-art building, which can showcase that we are very serious in this business; and therefore, we want that part of the complex building that we will have at Rebero Campus, will be a hotel whereby second year and third year students who are finalizing their studies, will have practical skills in areas similar to those you can find in other developed hotels.
We Want to construct our own hotel to accommodate art-of-the-work training facilities and showcase service delivery done by the students and that the move will show the public that somebody coming to our hotel is receiving the best of the service which is at higher level with the same standards as what they can expect from any other five-star- hotel.
Rebero campus itself will have different shopping centers with different services that the students and population surrounding the campus may need.
The premises will also host a community and Tourism Center which aims to showcase Cultural Tourism Activities and entertain the visitors coming in Rwanda. The same initiative aims to showcase cultural activities according to Kabera. This is also an element that is needed in Kigali.
How much will the facilities value be in terms of money?
For the first phase, Rebero campus will cost Rwf2 billion and will host not only classrooms and administrative blocks but also the libraries, laboratories for kitchen and computers, commercial services areas to foster lessons taught in class practically and to commercialise the products of the campus.
We want to train our students to be capable of selling the products they making.
The first phase of Rubavu campus will cost Rwf1 billion and is all about renovation of two buildings that will have the library, the conference room as well as new modern classrooms.
The total cost of the whole project of Rebero campus will cost Rwf10.25 billion while the Rubavu campus will cost Rwf5 billions.
Where will the money to fund its construction come from?
Since the enactment of the law of 2013 [recognising UTB as a university], UTB is organized as a limited company, while before, we were [in the category of] non-profit making organizations, but the law of 2013 allows to organize high learning institutions in three different areas which are limited companies, non-profit organizations, local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international NGOs, but UTB chose to be a limited company.
With this trend, we are capable of partnering with any investor to come in and bring money, all discussions are ongoing with potential investors but also part of the money will be from bank and UTB has mobilized its own funds whereby we are sure the banks are ready to support these projects. So, the money will come from three sources including UTB, banks, and another potential investors. UTB itself will contribute 40 percent of the overall cost.
When will its construction start, and when is it due for completion?
UTB-Rebero building is expected to start from October 2017 whereas Rubavu construction will start in December but will depend on the time they will be given to get construction permits from district authorities.
In which countries do your students conduct industrial attachment, and at what cost?
In the last four years, UTB has been organizing industrial attachment in Tourism and Hospitality in Kenya-Nairobi and Mombasa, in Uganda-Kampala, and in Arusha-Tanzania, gathering together the contribution of the University and its key partners as Private Sector Federation (PSF) plus different Embassies.
The cost for a student for three months in industrial attachment in the region is 1000 and 1,500 USD, which will be reduced with the new building facilities.