Reference is made to the article, “Kigali City brand image vital: ex-Seoul mayor” (The New Times, January 5).
I applaud this great idea to bring in an experienced ex-mayor of Seoul, South Korea.
However, whatever initiative we take, human capital is the foundation of any development. 50 years ago fast developing countries like Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and others, focused on capacity building first.
Infrastructure is great but what is most important for Rwanda is a well-grounded human resource and an appropriate business development and service delivery mindset coupled with strategic government incentives to entrepreneurs.
I have worked with Koreans before...they have a great work ethic, and they are focused on the bigger goals and their culture is very performance driven. Excellent points addressed in the interview. That said, I have three observations;
1) The Government of Rwanda has a broader urbanisation policy which is a pillar for EDPRS2. It would have been better to intervene at this level, because Kigali can accommodate so many people, and other parts of the country need to move in tandem with Kigali.
I believe Rwanda Housing Authority is the owner of the policy and it would be great to have a partnership on this with City of Kigali. After all, Kigali City is a ripe area for lessons learned so other proposed urban towns need not re-invent the wheel.
2) Capacity building: I hope there are Rwandans working closely with the former mayor of Seoul, and priority is to train local Rwandans on managing a city brand. Let not expatriates work solo or take a lead in everything, but prioritise knowledge sharing with local staff.
3) MICE strategy: This has been mentioned before and Rwanda Development Board has set up the Rwanda Convention Bureau to promote MICE in Rwanda. My sincere hope is that there will and are tight collaboration with city officials on this.
After all, if we promote Kigali effectively, who knows, the next big international conference can be held in Kibuye on the majestic shores of Lake Kivu.
All the best wishes on this endeavour to Sehoon Oh!
The idea to have an expert in urban planning with hands on, such as Sehoon Oh is a great one. Having said that, I will point out that, the development of the city has to follow the culture of the dwellers or the inhabitants, in all aspects of life. The city should be developed considering all standards and cultures of its inhabitants.
Kigali cannot be Seoul and Seoul cannot be Kigali, because Seoul is built reflecting the culture of their city dwellers. In planning for Kigali, we must consider, for example, that there are people who still consume banana beer, that there are motorcyclists…who must be considered when planning.
Failure to consider the culture and the lifestyle of the most inhabitants, we may end up building a city for only “economic hit men”.