The City of Kigali and Capital Markets Authority (CMA) have joined hands to help change the city’s landscape by eliminating unplanned neighbourhoods and embark on developing affordable modern housing for Kigali residents.
Dealing with Nyarugenge district will be the biggest headache. As the first and oldest urban residential area, the district has buildings dating to as far as pre-independence, especially in Biryogo.
While there have been individual attempts to spruce up the neighbourhood, the results have been a confused merger of old and new, with no attempt to efficiently utilize the already over-burdened land use.
Traditional mindsets that put emotional attachments to land will be another hurdle that city authorities will have to examine exhaustively. Where will Nyamirambo residents relocate to when the area undergoes redevelopment seeing that the city is already experiencing severe housing shortage?
It is a good start that the City and CMA are partnering with engineers, banks and architects in the ambitious plan to modernise the city. The city now remains with only 50% of land open for development and its estimated 1.2 million inhabitants are set to increase more than threefold in the next 25 years.
The land in question would be more than enough to absorb the population, but only if careful urban planning is adopted.
Many South East Asian countries faced the same problem a couple of decades ago but were able to overcome the hurdle through avant garde and exceptional planning. We do not have to reinvent the wheel, all we have to do is to adopt successful policies that can be adapted to our societies
Only then, maybe, people’s mindsets will change and adopt setting up residence in condominiums and high rise flats instead of the current fenced off private domains that waste living space.