I’m amazed when Rwandans achieve a great milestone and act like it means nothing. One such milestone occurred last month, the unveiling of the Nyarugenge master plan by Kigali City Council.
With my time in Kigali and recent interaction with the Mayor, I have come to learn a few things about the Kigali City Conceptual Master plan.
Rwanda is providing Africa with leadership on the way African Renaissance can be crafted and actualized by conceiving, designing and developing afresh, without an inch of the colonial past, a new capital city. That is my own personal assessment.
The current Kigali, as per the Master Plan, will be knocked down to the ground. All the colonial relics will come tumbling down and in its place we will have a completely new metropolis.
I am told that the new city will be ‘totally’ green, the only green city in East Africa. In this I am informed that city planners will be using best practise approach borrowed from various sources.
My gut feeling is that the Kigali Conceptual Master plan is a true milestone in this journey African leaders talk about; a new dawn in Africa.
I know for sure that such a feat will be a very tall order to achieve in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar-es-salaam. Maybe Arusha the capital of the EAC can be developed afresh. But not so with the regional capitals.
It is only in Kigali that such a feat can be accomplished. Why do I say so?
For example, Nairobi city authorities will have vested interests in the status quo, and so will attempt to delay a project such as this. Nairobi city has all that it needs to draw up another Master plan.
It has the human resource base with the best land use management teams, very reputable academic resources in various campuses in greater Nairobi metropolitan area and the critical mass in terms of local government revenue to fund an ambitious project of such a nature.
The vibrancy of Nairobi’s private sector which can be called up to support such a venture is another blessing it has.
Nairobi even has a ministry dedicated to its development at the central government level with a huge budget to boot. All the right pieces are in place.
I really do not want to dwell on the nitty-gritty of such challenges likely to be faced by Nairobi city authorities because I am aware that it is not the first time it has tried to come up with a new design. Nairobi tried it in the 1970s.
I will not talk so much about the other cities because I really don’t have all the facts.
This is in stark contrast to Kigali which has a modest of these ingredients. It was basically armed with only one critical element-the political will to start afresh. In this journey I know that many other challenges had to be surmounted.
The rest, as they say, is history. What has come out is a concise and bold attempt to redefine how Metropolitan Kigali will be managed in close tandem with the country’s future aspirations.
Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah is a journalist with The New Times