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Chinese firms help transform business district landscape in Rwanda

A street in downtown Kigali. File.

The Central Business District (CBD) in the capital Kigali reminds Wu Wenjun, the General Manager of the Rwanda 2000 Group, a Chinese private enterprise, of its counterparts in U.S. and Canadian cities.

It is as clean and well-planned, said Wu, who studied in Canada.


However, it was a different story in the past.


Wu's parents started doing business in Rwanda in 1996. When they first arrived in the landlocked country, the CBD area had only small wholesale and retail shops, the roads were potholed, and the houses were old and low.


But in the past two decades, Kigali has changed dramatically. Chinese enterprises have constructed several high-rises in the CBD area, including several national landmarks.

The 20-story Kigali City Tower can be seen from far away. Built by   (CCECC), the tower is one of the highest buildings in Rwanda. It comprises a cinema, a supermarket, shops and offices.

Standing on the rooftop of a new villa in Vision City, the biggest housing project in Rwanda undertaken by CCECC, David Rwego, a 38-year-old carpenter, can see Kigali City Tower clearly, a project he worked on many years ago.

"When we were constructing Kigali City Tower, that place looked like a village. Looking at that area from here now, I can feel Rwanda's development brought about by China," he said. "Working together with Chinese, Rwanda will be even more beautiful."

The Makuza Peace Plaza is another building constructed by CCECC. Unveiled by Rwandan President Paul Kagame in 2015, the business centre is one of the largest in the country.

Other Chinese enterprises have also participated in the development of the CBD area. Top International Engineering Corporation constructed the headquarters of Cogebanque, a commercial bank. CRJE (East Africa) Ltd. is constructing the 12-story twin-tower headquarters of Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority.

"Thanks to good governance, Rwanda has changed so much in the recent 10 years," said Bright Coleb Shema, the 22-year-old concierge of a hotel in the CBD.

Shema said the CBD not only facilitates consumption but also brings youths together to communicate and work with one another and get to know how to do business.

According to Wang Lei, general manager of CCECC in Rwanda and deputy chief of the Association of Chinese Enterprises in Rwanda, Chinese enterprises are important constructors in the country. They implement projects, train workers and introduce advanced technology in housing construction.

"Over the past decade, Rwanda has experienced rapid development in city construction as well as social and economic development," Wang said. "As a builder who has been witnessing Rwanda's development, I'm deeply proud of the Chinese enterprises in Rwanda."



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