BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
Rwanda today is a nation on the rise with reconstruction taking centre stage. Part of this entails revitalizing its urban areas with a sole intent of raising standards of living while providing the infrastructure and services for immense improvement in human welfare within the entire economy.
Part of this reconstruction is exhibited in the complete renewal of a host of its cities such as Kigali. The state of growth in Kigali city has led to a rise in demand for real estate and basic infrastructure.
To achieve this, the city must be seen to develop predictive and achievable programs to guide its planned, self sustainable urban development outcomes.
For instance the conceptual master plan which is to guide this renewal is a key tool to the realization of a complete sustainable urban renewal within the City of Kigali.
Thus within the EDPRS period the components touching on physical habitat and public assets management, emphasis will be put on the planning and development of improved rural and urban human settlements consistent with the contemplated sustainable land use and environment protection schemes.
The following are some of the planned activities:
a) Eleven city master plans will be prepared (making thirteen in total) by 2012.
b) 5,700 imidugudu sites will be constructed, in addition to the existing 5,486.
c) 10,000 hectares of land will be provided with requisite services for housing.
d) 7 districts with the worst living conditions will be restructured and their inhabitants relocated to better houses endowed with basic services.
e) Government institutions will be provided with adequate accommodation, in alignment with the need for delivering quick and high quality services.
Realigning the construction sector
These activities in effect means that the country’s construction sector needs to be restructured for the purposes of protecting public health and safety and create a simple, efficient, timely and transparent sector facilitation needs such as building approval process to fuel the planned growth.
Building codes and standards are the primary means by which building construction is regulated in Rwanda for the purposes of ensuring health and safety of the general public.
National model building and construction codes are in place, although many localities have additional ordinances and codes that modify or add to the National model codes.
To monitor compliance with regulations, inspectors make an initial inspection during the first phase of construction and follow up with further inspections throughout the construction project.
However, no inspection is ever exactly the same. Inspectors monitor compliance with additional safety regulations designed to protect structures and occupants.
The purpose of enacting such codes is to integrate with and extend the national economic development strategies with the rise in urban renewal. Within the framework of the Vision 2020 is the creation of a market regulated real estate sector supported by judicious legal and other public mechanisms that protect all stakeholders.
‘Resettlement with compensation’ is one such a measure. While the sector is considered key to the overall development of the economy legal safeguards must be instituted within the construction industry to protect those affected accordingly.
The Kigali Master plan
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and is located in the centre of the country.The Rwandan capital is home to over 1 million people approximately one-tenth of Rwanda’s total population.
It is estimated that the average household size is five people, and fifty-six percent of Kigali’s population is under the age of twenty.
Kigali is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa and has the fastest rate of urbanization.
As Kigali city leadership works towards the goal of becoming a leading urban center in the region and on the African continent, the city authorities are striving to follow a route of sustainable development through balancing the needs of the economy with that of the environment and the community.
The Vision 2020, EDPRS and the Kigali economic development strategy all reflect this intention to achieve development in a sustainable way.
Out of these comes the Conceptual Master Plan which goes one step further by showing Rwandans how to actually implement the city’s larger goals.
The Kigali Conceptual Master Plan is the framework on which the development of Kigali City shall be based for the next 30-50 years.
In the process of turning Kigali city into a model metropolis, the city was granted the U.N Habitant ‘Scroll of Honor’ Award for its innovations in building a model, modern city symbolized by zero tolerance for plastics, improved garbage collection and substantial reduction in crime.
The U.N Habitant ‘Scroll of Honor’ was launched by the United Nations human settlements programme in 1989.Its aim is to acknowledge initiatives which have made outstanding contributions to the global urban prosperity.
The Kigali Conceptual Master Plan is the first step in developing the Kigali Comprehensive Plan.
The second step is preparing more detailed master plans for each of the three districts, which will be combined with other regulations and policies to become the official comprehensive planning document.
Through this process we hope to inspire increased participation of citizens, the business community, and other stakeholders as the details of the plan unfold.
Rwandans hope that the Kigali Conceptual Master Plan, very much inspired by the sustainable development approach, could set an example for other urban authorities so that urban renewal can be extended throughout the country.
The government is also working on regularization of land tenure which will give people more security over their land, thus promoting development.
A Sanitation Master Plan is being developed soon and work on a Land-Use Master Plan is also to commence soon. The Master Plan covers transport, housing and the other major issues listed above in its scope. It gives general and problem-specific guidelines and recommendations on which more detailed solutions will be based.
Rwanda has one of the lowest percentages of urbanized population in the world.
In 2000, 13.6% of the population in Rwanda was urbanized, yet Rwanda has one of the highest population densities in Africa.
However, Rwanda is experiencing increasing urbanization largely resulting from rural-urban migration and the resettlement and repatriation of refugees.
By 2030, the percentage growth of urban population in Rwanda is projected to be the highest in the world, at around 6.71%.4 For Kigali, this rate is even projected to be higher.
According to the 2002 census, between 1991 and 2002 Kigali experienced an average annual growth rate of 9%.
In the next 25 years over 1 million people are projected to migrate to cities in Rwanda. If current trends continue, Kigali will bear the brunt of the urban growth pressure in Rwanda created by this extremely high rate of urban migration.
This phenomenon will continue to tax the existing urban and community infrastructure and availability of developable land within the city boundaries.
According to available figures, approximately 83% of the urban population of Kigali is located within informal settlements. This number represents approximately 62% of the land area.
The implication is that a large proportion of the city’s population is living in highly dense, sub-standard conditions, with poor infrastructure services.
Developing the City Clusters
To drive national investment climate Kigali city embarked on development of its central Business District (CBD) by enhancing better physical service especially core infrastructure to facilitate the city’s economic growth.
To cope with current existing slums in lower Kiyovu and Muhima sectors, the private sector have been engaged in CBD creation.
Due to city expansion the city is addressing the social impact of the relocation of the residents of these informal settlements by creating new planned residential hubs in various areas like Kinyinya, Akumunigo, Masaka and others.
CBD phase (1) will cover a total project area of 150 hectares of Muhima sector.
CBD phase (2) will focus on the upgrading of the existing central business district. This will be an ongoing scheme that will involve the active participation of the existing business community of the area.
These upgrading projects will include the introduction of mixed land use to support a vibrant city centre that thrives on expanded working hours.
The plan provides for both current and future residents of Kigali by proposing new developments in open areas, but also proposes a unique methodology to improve/redevelop the ‘informal settlements’.
In both cases, the fundamental building blocks of the city plan are clustered communities that will facilitate the delivery of education, health care, and other social services.
These clusters will also support economic innovation and vitality and the creation of social capital, generating development using a bottom up approach.
Communities will grow and thrive over time as citizens take ownership of their neighborhoods and make them beautiful examples of Rwandan ingenuity.
As it develops, Kigali offers unlimited investment opportunities that will increasingly attract investors and visitors from all over the world.
The Kigali Conceptual Master Plan was conceived and developed along those core principles as a basis for guiding extensive public investments, as well as creating a framework for the private sector to invest and participate in the building of our City.
The Master Plan is a fundamental tool in enhancing our city’s growth and development and we hope that the city residents will appreciate and uphold the principles enshrined in its designs.
This is just one of the many steps being taken by the government to secure a good future for the next generations. With good governance and close cooperation from its citizenry, the master plan is bound to be a success.
Rwandans envision Rwanda as a ‘hub’ of East and Central Africa and a catalytic leader in African development: a regional center of transportation and economic vitality, which will leapfrog into the mid 21st century through technological innovation.
To this end Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, has drawn up the Kigali Economic Development Strategy (KEDS), that aligns with Vision 2020 and outlines the necessary steps to achieve these ambitious goals.
The goal is turn to Kigali city to be highly competitive within the global economy; one that can brings opportunity and prosperity to its citizens; where business and industry can prosper and grow; where the public and private sectors work in a cooperative partnership; and where individuals and families enjoy an improved quality of life.
The Kigali Conceptual Master Plan is based on research and analysis of a wide range of background conditions and technical aspects.
The master plan designs considered environmental, land use, infrastructural, cultural, and socioeconomic factors, as well as economic and demographic projections, and outlined opportunities and constraints for urban development.