Between 22 and 25 per cent of the City of Kigali will in the near future be turned into recreational spaces, it has emerged.
Officials say that the plan is a joint effort between the City Hall and other stakeholders, especially those championing green initiatives.
Recreational and green spaces will be a key feature in both the city’s next master plan and an urban wetland master plan to be developed by the Ministry for Environment.
The next City of Kigali master plan is expected to be unveiled by August.
“The Ministry of Environment is set to develop an urban wetland master plan that will make wetlands generate revenues through development of recreational or open urban spaces such as man-made lakes and ecotourism parks,” Fred Mugisha, the Director of Kigali Urban Planning, told The New Times.
He said there was an ongoing effort to mobilise resources and investments from the private sector.
The newly proposed Kigali master plan is aligned with country’s vision 2050.
Asked about some of the major green projects that are under consideration, he cited Nyandungu eco-tourism park, Gikondo recreational park (formerly an industrial park), as well as recreational spaces and artificial lakes in Ndera, Rusororo, and Masaka wetlands.
“These are projects that need some good investments,” he said, without delving into details about the estimated costs.
He also said that there is a plan to create a park in every neighbourhood with 2,000 to 50,000 inhabitants.
Such spaces, he said, “will be used for recreation, relaxation, and playing, and serve as venues for social events such as weddings and parties.”
Mugisha said once all the recreational spaces have been mapped out the next phase will be looking into how best these environmentally friendly places will be turned into potential investment opportunities for city residents.
“We have to calculate the cost of a business in such spaces so that the private sector can tap into those opportunities,” he said.
He said the city was looking to creating opportunities for more green jobs to help tackle unemployment.
The city says it will need some 1.76 million jobs by 2050.
But, crucially, there is an environment aspect to the plan as well.
Considering that the population of the City of Kigali is expected to grow to 3.8 million by 2050 up from 1.3 million currently, authorities hope that the plan to create more green and recreational parks will help turn the ever-growing metropolis into a healthy and sustainable habitat.
Noel Turamyimana, a resident of Masaka Sector, Kicukiro District, said he’s excited that an artificial lake in his area is in the pipeline.
He said the project will generate jobs for the area residents.
“There are already ongoing works on two hotels in the neighbourhood,” he said, adding that such investments will help fast-track the plan to create recreational spaces in the area.
Kigali made headlines last week when it became the first city in the world to be named the Public Health Laureate for the Wellbeing City Award, thanks in large part to the city’s bimonthly car-free day.
The award was announced Thursday by NewCities, a Canada-based global non-profit committed to shaping a better urban future.
The prestigious Award is the first international initiative to recognise and honour city authorities that place wellbeing at the centre of urban planning and policymaking.
The Award is reserved for the most progressive and innovative ideas that drive positive changes in cities through events, research and urban innovation projects.
Introduced in 2016 by the City Hall, car-free days have increasingly become popular among Kigalians and the practice has since been introduced in many districts across the country.
On car-free days, certain roads are closed off to motorists for several hours, with thousands of citizens jogging or cycling in car-free streets before converging at designated points from collective physical exercises and medical checkups for those interested.
Participants are also encouraged to take part in social causes such as donating blood.
Physical activity helps prevent Non-Communicable Diseases, promotes wellbeing and boosts productivity.