10 major changes in the new Kigali master plan

An aerial view of Nyarugenge in 2019.The new master plan, which runs from 2020 to 2050 was unveiled on Friday September 4 . / File

The City of Kigali, on Friday, September 4, 2020, launched a new city master plan to be implemented from 2020 up to 2050.

The new master plan introduces a flexible and incremental approach to city development as it seeks to accommodate 3.8 million population in 2050 from the current 1.6 million population.


The master plan is guided by economic, social and environmental drivers.


The following are top changes highlighted by Ernest Nsabimana, the Vice Mayor of Kigali City in charge of Urbanization and Infrastructure, in the new master plan compared to the previous one.


1) Mixed-use houses  

Contrary to the previous master plan, the new master plan has allowed flexibility where one building can be used for different purposes.

This means that one house can combine commercial activities, residence, restaurants, office and others at once to ensure integration.

2) Small businesses given space

The official explained that the new master plan will promote the economy for small business.

People in need of microenterprises have been considered by the master plan which will enable small businesses such as shoemakers, tailors and many similar small businesses to have places for doing their businesses as requested by Rwanda Development Board.

3) Minimum of 70 houses per ha 

Nsabimana explained that the other change is that a minimum of houses per hectare will increase from 25 to 70 houses.

Protected agricultural land decreased from 66.8 percent to 55 per cent while developed areas will increase from 32 per cent to 45 per cent as the growing population will need infrastructure and housing.

According to the official, figures show that today, 1, 778 people occupy one square kilometre and that will increase to 5,243 in 2050 , calling for optimal use of land.

4) Home offices 

The master plan will allow small businesses to have small offices in residential areas where people can occupy without having to rent from big buildings.

This, officials said, is in line with promoting micro-economy, small enterprises.

 5) Cycle lanes planned 

 The master has planned integrated road use and master planning. This means that to construct Kigali ring roads and Bus Rapid Transit systems requires to build roads for pedestrians and cycling lanes.

6) Public facilities

With walking and cycling lanes serving for recreation, there will also be public spaces serving for recreational purposes.

7) Neighborhood based services

This is the way people live somewhere but access all infrastructure close to them.

The master plan will help citizens access -at walkable distance- basic infrastructures, business services, health facilities, religious infrastructure, restaurants, banks, motels, markets, schools and others where they can walk at least 400 metres.

This will also reduce congestion of people seeking such services in the Central Business District (CBD).

8) Flexibility in building residential houses

The new master plan has allowed flexibility in building affordable residential houses.

It will also allow improvement of unplanned settlements without necessarily relocating residents.

Auxiliary residential units are allowed where a house owner can annex other small houses in smart ways that can help low income earners.

9) New approach to density 

Nsabimana said that the previous master plan recommended skyscrapers but the new one integrates medium height storey-buildings.

10) Integration of wetland master plan  

The new master plan has integrated wetland master plan where each wetland will have its own use including recreational wetlands


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