EDITORIAL: Cancelling Kigali music concert was a blow to recovery of creative industry

Saturday April 02 2022

This week, musicians, concert organisers and members of the public took to twitter and other social media platforms to strongly castigate the City of Kigali for what they called arbitrary canceling a concert, which was to be headlined by a visiting Nigerian artist.

The concert was shut down on the grounds of causing noise pollution in a residential neighbourhood close to Hotel Portofino where the concert was hosted, to the chagrin of a number of entertainment entrepreneurs who say the closure made them a loss of up to Rwf20 million.

The past two years have been tough for the entertainment industry. As the government implemented a raft of restrictions meant to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, entertainment businesses were among the first to suffer.

Concerts, nightclubs, music shows were all prohibited for a long time, even when some of other businesses got a green light, entertainment activities remained banned because they bring many people together which increased chances of spreading the virus, but also because entertainment is not considered that important, it comes low in the pecking order of priority sectors.

This left a wide range of people, for instance DJ's, musicians, producers, concert promoters, as well as other players tied to the entertainment sector, jobless. Not having any income for close to two years left many artists and their families desperate.

The recent lifting of the curfew and the ban on entertainment activities came as a big reprieve to many entertainment and event businesses which were on their
deathbed. So when an army of entertainers went up in arms against municipality authorities for shutting down the concert, it was both out of desperation and anger.


Noise pollution is an offense punishable by the Rwandan law, and its enforcement would be understandable by anyone, however, the entertainers claimed that this time around it was done with injustice. As intricate as an area of policing noise pollution is, the government ought to come up with technical instruments to ascertain pollution.

It is unacceptable for a government official to come and just shut down a concert without even using decibel measurements that indicate that the required sound has been exceeded. It is alleged that a 'powerful' neighbour to the hotel made calls which led to the concert being stopped.

Enforcement of noise pollution needs to be backed up scientifically, as opposed to arbitrarily shutting down concerts or music shows which people have paid their money to attend, also exposing losses to organisers who invest a lot of money into these events.

The last few years have seen Rwanda build an ecosystem of businesses and services around the MICE sector.