Rwanda’s bid to boost the country’s tourism sector by sponsoring English football club Arsenal with a reported 30 million pounds ($40 million) has received a lot of backlash from the United Kingdom and the government doesn’t seem happy about it.
A report published by American television network Cable News Network (CNN) on Monday highlighting the criticism of the multimillion-dollar deal was not taken lightly by Rwanda’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, who couldn’t hold back his words on Twitter.
CNN posted the report on Twitter with the caption: “Rwanda is spending millions of dollars to sponsor Arsenal, one of the UK’s richest football clubs — even though the country is a major recipient of foreign aid.”
About an hour later, the minister replied: “Tell me @CNN, how many countries, including African and developping countries, “spend millions of dollars” to advertise their tourism on your network, which is one of the richests in the world? Have you ever complained? So, please be quiet! 🤫 #FakeNews [sic].”
Tell me @CNN, how many countries, including African and developping countries, "spend millions of dollars" to advertise their tourism on your network, which is one of the richests in the world? Have you ever complained? So, please be quiet! 🤫 #FakeNews https://t.co/NbNo10FKq4
— Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe (@onduhungirehe) August 13, 2018
The minister’s reply garnered reactions of support from Rwandans who also called CNN fake news.
#FAKENEWS Channel 100%
— Hamid MelonTree (@HMelontree) August 13, 2018
I just wish i could like it twice , well said Minister!
— Ngoga (@fngoga86) August 13, 2018
For those asking if tourism promotion funds should have been used for water or electricity, let me break it down for you: Infrastructure is imported," she tweeted. "Tourism is our #1 forex earner. The more Rwanda earns from tourism, the more we can invest in our people." Logic
— vincemusewe (@vincemusewe) August 13, 2018
After announcing the three-year deal that includes the emblazoning of “Visit Rwanda” campaign logo on the left sleeve of all Arsenal team players, critics mainly from the UK slammed the deal citing Rwanda’s poverty rate which is over 50% and its dependency on foreign aid.
British daily Express reported: “Last year Britain gave £27million to the Rwandan government for poverty relief as well as £37million for aid programmes. It is one of the world’s poorest nations and suffered civil war and brutal genocide in the 1990s.”
It also added criticisms from Tory MP Andrew Bridgen and Rwandan human rights campaigner Rene Mugenzi who described the deal as shocking.
The Daily Mail was rather explicit with its report stating: “Shirt of shame: Britain dishes out £62million in foreign aid to Rwandan dictator who splurges £30million on sponsorship for his beloved Arsenal FC.”
The Rwanda Development Board was quick to react to the criticism with its CEO Clare Akamanzi tweeting that: “For those asking if tourism promotion funds should have been used for water or electricity, let me break it down for you: Infrastructure is imported. Tourism is our #1 forex earner. The more Rwanda earns from tourism, the more we can invest in our people. That’s the connection.”
It was just a normal day at training…
…and then this happened 🥁
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) August 9, 2018