Lately, it’s hard not to notice a modern wooden kiosk around Rwandex, which easily catches the eye of most passersby.
This is one of many such kiosks that will increasingly be seen in the city, according to the City of Kigali’s Director of Urban Economic Development Unit, Augustin Rwomushana.
Rwomushana revealed that the development is a product of a partnership between the City of Kigali, and Rwanda Ex-Combatants Benefits Union Ltd.
The Rwanda Ex-Combatants Benefits Union is an institution that invests in special projects in economic development, infrastructure, as well as ICT infrastructure.
The partnership will see the establishment of more than 200 “imigongo” decorated wooden-made kiosks in Kigali.
One Stop Smart Kiosk at Rwandex in Kigali. Photos by Craish Bahizi.
The kiosks are back on our streets and this time, bigger and better. Their name, One-Stop Smart Kiosk.
REBU Ltd is in charge of construction and management saying that there are other kiosks will be built around the country after the pilot project is deemed successful and approved by the government.
According to the City of Kigali, multi-coloured umbrellas and various metallic kiosks on the streets, don’t reflect the true definition of a “Smart City.”
Due to economic growth and development of Kigali, Rwomushana explained, multiple businesses agents such as telecom, newspapers and Tap n Go vendors, among others often shelter in different umbrellas which doesn’t look well-coordinated and has no specific mapping.
In addition to that, security concerns, raised by this agglomeration, are among the reasons that induced these modern kiosks.
Fraudsters who often conned members of the public disguised as telecom or bank agents’ jackets will no longer find a way, Eng. Toussaint Birakwiye, Board Chairman at Rwanda Ex-Combatants Benefits Union Ltd, told The New Times.
Public washroom in Smart Coffee shop at Rwandex.
Eng. Birakwiye explained that members of the public will now know that there is a fixed place where those agents will be operating from.
In order to operate from these kiosks, “the agents register through our system called Agents Services Access Point (ASAP), with their IDs as well as their companies, and the system also gives them an identification number which will be seen on their badges which will in turn help identify the agent in case of a problem with a customer”, he added.
The kiosks embrace the Made in Rwanda concept by using locally made materials.
A kiosk can accommodate six people and will also tap into the beautification of Kigali City as a clean city and tourist attraction site.
However, Alphonse Nkinamubanzi, an MTN agent with an umbrella at Rwandex, who is among the first pioneers of the pilot project to have registered for relocating to the smart kiosks, raised some concerns.
“I am worried about rent. I fear that my commissions from the services provided, won’t afford me the rental fees of such a beautiful kiosk,” the agent told The New Times.
The board chairman of REBU Ltd, responding to the agent’s concern, said that the pioneers will operate freely for 6 months as part of the pilot project, “notwithstanding, the proposed monthly rent ranges between Rwf 5,000-Rwf 10,000 per person which will take effect after the approval of the pilot project.”
According to Birakwiye, the proposed rental fee might not go up significantly as other businesses that will need to provide services through these Kiosks will go through REBU Ltd.
Street food lovers not forgotten
Nevertheless, the 6 square metre kiosks won’t be used as regular kiosks.
The Director of Urban Economic Development Unit in the City of Kigali emphasised that these kiosks are not meant for refreshments. “They are meant for telecommunication services, Tap and go, Irembo services and other services that won’t jeopardise their function,” he said.
However, all is not lost for street food lovers.
Within One-Stop Smart Kiosk’s proximity, there will be coffee shops that will be running 24 hours a day as the City of Kigali works to promote the 24/7 business culture.
Eng. Birakwiye said that “there will be no queues, no sitting down there, only take-aways.” He also added that the facilities will share the room with service centres.
The service centre, he said, will have computers with internet, which anyone can use to browse for services offered by the Government such as tax declaration and Irembo services.
Inclusion in Smart public washrooms
Adjacent to the coffee shops will be smart public washrooms.
The toilets also take into account persons living with disabilities to promote inclusivity.
“Rwanda promotes inclusion and public toilets should be accessed by everyone. That’s why we decided to add those special toilets for people living with disabilities”, Eng. Birakwiye said.
The washrooms will also have handheld showerheads for those who will wish to have a quick shower.
He added that the facility will have well-trained personnel for maintenance with regular inspections to ensure neatness of the facility.
“This is part of “Keep Kigali Clean” campaign”, Rwomushana added.
After the success of the pilot project, 40 more public toilets will be built around the city.
Shoes will be treated too
Other services and opportunities available in the spaces will include providing shoe polishing and shoe mending by a cobbler.
“It will also promote Kigali as a regional and global city offering key services through smart KIOSKS as well as create new business opportunities for reservists, youth and women”, Rwomushana added.
Other proposed strategic places will be at Kimironko bus station and Nyabugogo among others.