90 per cent of Kigali residential land earmarked for apartments

  • By Fred Ndoli
  • July 27, 2012
Alphonse Nizeyimana. The New Times / File.

City officials have said only 10 per cent of Kigali’s land will be reserved for bungalows.

In an exclusive interview, Kigali Vice-Mayor in charge of Finance and Economic Development, Alphonse Nizeyimana, explained that the move is in line with sustainable urban planning.

Nizeyimana said Kigali has only 52 per cent of land for development, and stressed that apartments were for better land management.

“We have very limited land for development and to mitigate the problem of the density, we have to adopt suitable policies,” Nizeyimana said.

“We have provided only 10 per cent for high-end houses and people to embrace the new changes in the city. We will not allow anyone to build anyhow. People have to abide by the city master plan.”

Most Rwandans fancy a home with a yard and an annex, a tendency that, according to city urban planners, threatens the city’s future in terms of development.

Kigali’s current population is estimated at 1.2 million, but it’s expected to reach 2.9 million by 2025, and five million in 2040.

According to Nizeyimana, embracing condominiums would curb the insufficiency of water supply and energy.

“It costs the government Rwf5 million to connect a home to electricity and water, but with apartments, it would cost Rwf 2 million, hence every citizen would access both water and energy easier,” he noted.

The country still faces challenges of shortage of water, but the government says it wants to work with other development partners to increase access to safe water from 71% today to 100% by 2017.

Nizeyimana added that the introduction of apartments will not only improve the city’s urban development but would boost business.

“With apartments, one lower ground floor will accommodate commercial area with restaurants and with we hope it will raise business,” Nizeyimana said.

Members of Project Umubano, an initiative of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, have advised the government, Kigali authorities as well as developers, to embrace apartment accommodation for better land management.

A team of seven urban planners, who were in the country as part of the project’s latest mission, concluded that there was an urgent need for the country to turn to apartments to help sustain Rwanda’s urban planning to mitigate fears of  rapid population growth both in the city and the country.

The city has over 730 square kilometres of hills and valleys, with only 422,825 square metres appropriate for development.

Esther Mutamba, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority, told this paper earlier that the government has already started sensitising the population on the benefits of what she called housing cooperative projects – beginning with civil servants”.

However, several citizens resist development of apartments, citing the associated costs, but concerned authorities target having 40,000 rentals by 2015 mostly for medium and low income earners. An apartment ranges between Rwf 28 million and 45 million.

It is estimated the country needs 25,000 housing units every year.

Contact email: fred.ndoli[at]


Oh Rwanda, my beloved country, have we become so irrelevant to ourselves that we rely on foreigners to tell us how to make our capital city an "livable and sustainable" urban setting? Where is AGACIRO in all this? Have we really waited for the UK conservative party through the UMUBANO FOUNDATION to provide us with an urban planning policy for Kigali? These English politicians may be our "friends of Rwanda" for now but nobody knows which side they will choose to be on when they wake up tomorrow morning. Rwanda, please be careful when dealing with these so-called "friends" because, if history is prologue, these people will more than likely change their attitudes towards Rwanda in years to come. Again, my message to you Rwanda, is to be open minded to what these foreign friends tell us but ultimately to make our own choices based on our own realities. By the way, I'll be very glad to see my comment posted on this platform. ALUTA CONTINUA!!

06:22:26 Friday 27th, July 2012 Sudbury, Ontario, Canada - INTARE KAYITARE

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I fully agree with Intare Kayitare.How come an administration decides on such an important matter just based on foreigners advices and without consulting the concerned people through an open, no-tabu constructive debate????Indeed, where is our "Agaciro" in all that??We are still mentally colonized!!!

10:27:43 Friday 27th, July 2012 Kigali - Fred

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Every body is entiltled to his/her own opinion but i am sure Mr. Kayitare (in the comments he makes) is aware that in Canada, where he lives, housing is carefully planned by government for the good of the people. Unless some people simply want to be seen to oppose every good thing that government and the local authorities introduce for the development of Kigali and Rwanda, there is nothing wrong with Kigali urban development plan.It is irrelevant for some commentators to despise what Rwanda officials plan for our country just because (some times) they get advice from foreigners. It is actually hypocritical because most of such commentators live happily in countries like Canada and others where they enjoy good housing which is the knowledge and planning of the foreigners they are speaking of.Go on Rwanda, go on Kigali City officials - do not be distracted by irrelevant commentaries.

11:17:31 Friday 27th, July 2012 London - Nathan Twagirimana

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The problem with many of us is that we like to speak even on matters we are not competent to speak competently and meaningfully about...but somehow cannot find the grace to humble ourselves and listen to expertize. Such is the case with those of us here arguing against urban planning in Kigali. It also took the Government to advise even young able bodied young men to move out of "Nyakatsi" challenge themselves beyond.....Let us learn to respect expertize and leadership and not speak just because there is a platform available to speak. Bravo Kigali City Administration. As the young man sung so relevantly, Songa mbele, atta wakiseme!!!

18:18:23 Friday 27th, July 2012 Kampala - Moses Tumusiime

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I would like to respond to Intare Kayitare comment on this article. I am wondering if he is suggesting that we should not have any urban planning at all.I don’t think it is relevant where the suggestion to plan urbanization came from, what’s relevant here is the fact that we might have a demographic crisis in the future if we don’t plan the urbanization of our city strategically. The model being followed here is the same that has been followed in the building of any other new modern city with high density of population. So I think Intare Kayitare totally missed the point on this one ….

19:47:33 Friday 27th, July 2012 Toronto , Ontario - Chico Ngoga

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When people choose to argue against someone else's view/comment, i wish they can first understand what they arguing against before opening their mouth. First off, nowhere in my comment did i state that i'm against urban planning for Kigali. This is just factually wrong. This Nathan Twagirimana seems to suggest that i may "want to be seen to oppose every good thing that government and the local authorities introduce". For God's sake, where do you see that in my comment. I want to remind him that this urban policy albeit a good thing was not introduced by his local authorities but rather an idea his local authorities just copied and pasted from ABAZUNGU. All i said was for my beloved Rwanda to be careful not to copy and paste foreigners ideas without taking in consideration of our realities. I'll repeat the question again to make it easier for you Nathan, "have we really waited for the UK conservative party to provide us with an urban planning policy for our capital city Kigali? Could we have done that ourselves without waiting for them? If you take the time and read my comment again, my issue is not the content/nature of the urban policy recently introduced, it was rather the mentality of having to wait for a foreigner to tell us what we already know we should do. Perhaps it's acceptable to you to have a foreigner's ideas adopted without much debate on the grassroots level, but to me i'd tell you that Rwandans could've come up with that urban planning themselves without any foreign input. C'mon people, before providing your rebuttal please understand first what you're going to argue against. This Nathan goes on to say that i live happily in "countries like Canada...where [i] enjoy good housing. I want to remind him that living happily in countries like Canada should NOT deprive any Rwandan citizen the right to have a say in what goes on in their beloved country. If anything, people like you would rather sit in Europe and have white people come to build Rwanda on your behalf. That's not the AGACIRO our president tell us. You still have a colonized mentality my friend. Pause for a bit and think about it, was there something that was introduced by the UK conservative party that you and I cannot do without them? To chico Ngoga, you're the one who's missing the point because you never understood my point of view to begin with. To Moses Tumusiime, you're mixing apples and potatoes here. I never said that Rwandans should resist this densification urban policy, on the contrary i think it is a sustainable/sound policy. The issue here is that people write for the sake of writing without first understanding what they are going to rebut. Had you grasped my point of view, i'm sure you would have understood that my beef is not the policy itself, my issue in all this was for our local authorities having to wait for a foreigner to tell us something that we already know we should do. Mujye musoma mwitonze mubanze mwumve icyo umuntu ashaka kuvuga. ALUTA CONTINUA!!

22:27:09 Friday 27th, July 2012 Sudbury, Ontario, Canada - INTARE KAYITARE

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