A former lawyer from London and Paris, whose family have deep roots in East Africa going back to the 1870s, has started what could well become a major trend in the hospitality industry by adapting a Chinese model to East Africa.
In the summer of 1999, I made my first visit to Rwanda to attend a conference hosted by the Rwanda chapter of a business association. Over the course of three days, every Rwandese I met, including leaders of the emerging business community, shared their stories of tragic losses of family members and the destruction of their businesses during the very dark days of 1994.
The Rwandan government is nothing if not ambitious. Plans to become a middle-income country, with a knowledge-based economy, with Kigali as a regional investment and IT hub, are all examples of Rwanda thinking big and preparing to confound expectations. And these aspirations stretch to virtually all aspects of the country.
Along with plans to boost the IT sector, Rwanda also has ideas to further diversify its economy, hoping to attract more service industries and install itself as a financial hub for Africa.
For a tiny landlocked country like Rwanda, overpopulation is a major concern. The last census put the population at 11.5m and government fears of rapid population growth has led to a concerted campaign to encourage families to have fewer children. The population is expected to reach 16m by 2020, which will require an annual growth rate of at least 7% for Rwanda to reach its goals.
Last month, April, marked the 20th anniversary of the worst genocide in human history since the end of the Second World War.