In Rwanda, a New Golf Course in Kigali Is a Sign of Growth
“Golf is changing in Rwanda, and many kids here are now starting to play, too,” he said.
Leonard Nkurunziza, 39, also knew little about the sport when he first started as a caddie 20 years ago. At the time, he said there were only about 100 members who would come and putt around the course’s nine holes. Back then, he barely knew the rules of the sport. Today he is a competitive golfer who has led the Rwandan national team and still works at the golf course as head caddie. He said he was amazed that there were more than 400 members who regularly came and played.
“People here have started to love golf,” Mr. Nkurunziza said.
Those who don’t play love it, too, especially if they own property near the course.
Pascal Germain and his wife, Denise Uwimbabazi Bagambake, began house hunting in Kigali last year. The couple, business owners who currently live in Nairobi, Kenya, said that they hoped to make a permanent move to Rwanda, Ms. Bagambake’s home country, when their four children were older, and that in the interim, they were looking for a space that could offer them a significant revenue stream as a rental.
They found a six-bedroom, six-bathroom villa that was built five years ago. Its best asset was out the windows: a direct view of the golf course.
Mr. Germain and Ms. Bagambake purchased the home, located in Kigali’s upscale Nyarutarama neighborhood, for $800,000. They are renting it to a family, who signed a five-year lease with the first year paid up front. While they won’t reveal what they are charging, they expect to recoup their investment within seven years, they said.
“We knew the golf course was the best place to buy,” said Mr. Germain, 57, a Rwandan citizen who grew up in Belgium. He plays golf only occasionally — he has back trouble, he said — and Ms. Bagambake, 49, does not play at all. But since purchasing their home, they say they plan to take advantage of the course in the future and hope to introduce their children to the sport.