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Vatel opens its 1st School in Eastern Africa, in Rwanda

Vatel Schools can open any place in the world: in September 2015, school bells will be ringing to welcome the new class in Vatel Kigali, the capital of the “Land of a Thousand Hills.”


Vatel opens its 1st School in Eastern Africa, in Rwanda

This new School will be directed by Nicole Bamukunde, a young Rwandese entrepreneur who studied at Vatel in France fifteen or so years ago, before working in high-profile jobs in local industries. She will be supported in her duties by the Vatel Mauritius team and in particular, Renaud Azema, the School’s Director.

Stakes are high for Rwanda, as one of its economic development strategies is increasing tourism. Hotels are growing by leaps and bounds, not just in Kigali, with business-based tourism, but also in Rubavu, on the border of the Republic of the Congo, in Karongi and Musanze, which are tourist resorts being built on the banks of Lake Kivu, where many private stakeholders are requesting the support of high-quality training initiatives.

And Rwanda, just like many other countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, suffers from the lack of domestic schools that are able to train managers and executives in tourism management, as well as in hotel management. As do Vatel Mauritius and Madagascar, the goal of Vatel Kigali is to correctly train local students to become operational managers, and in the future, senior executives.

Nonetheless, the analysis that Nicole Bamukunde recently carried out showed that local hotels, in order to attract international guests, must not only recruit new operational managers who comply with international standards, but also train these professionals to use these standards. But the program the Rwandese government put in place to improve customer care is merely made up of a few sessions showing trainees how to work on welcoming guests, and is far from satisfying visitors who are used to traveling in other touristic areas, where the welcome and service provided to guests are always top class.

As of September, Vatel Kigali will be the first Business School in International Hotel Management able to provide the appropriate response to Rwanda’s needs. Training is needed not just in schools, but also to train hotel employees, starting with their managers, so that they will be able to better support their team members in ramping up their skills.

Renaud Azema has been in charge of expanding Vatel’s network in Africa since July, 2014. This new function was awarded to him because of the success of Vatel Mauritius, which, in April 2015, will have 330 students on the Pierrefonds Campus, in Quatre Bornes.

Vatel Kigali is the first School to be launched in Eastern Africa, and the second one after Madagascar, under Renaud Azema’s responsibility. He clearly explains Vatel Group’s ambitions: “Wherever this is possible, we want to give students the possibility of studying locally, while taking advantage of an internationally recognized degree and curriculum that complies with French standards (a certified degree registered at the National Directory of Professional Certification (RNCP)) by a French ministerial by-law, and we want this to be cost-effective for our students.”

Vatel’s expansion in Africa will not stop there. Already countries such as Tanzania and Kenya have shown interest in hosting a Vatel Campus in their country.   Renaud Azema is also exploring destinations such as Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.

 Nicole B

Nicole Bamukunde, Vatel Kigali’s Director

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They’ll tell you about their African experiences:

- Rachael Henley, a Vatel Nimes student doing her internship at the Hotel Kempinski de Kigali

- David Thomas, a Vatel Lyon alumnus, voted the top South-African Chef in 2013. David will be joining the new Namibia Exclusive Safaris Hotel Group where he will be in charge of launching 4 lodge-hotels in the savanna in July, 2015.