A new report has recommended that the six secondary cities of the country develop niche sectors so that they get enough exports to spur development.
The report titled, “Development through Good Governance, Foresighting Service Delivery in Secondary Cities,” focuses on good governance practices, looking beyond Vision 2020 to Vision 2050 and rebasing Rwanda’s reference point from 1994 to 2016.
The report was produced by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) in conjunction with the Future-Moves-Group (FMG) from Singapore.
The six secondary cities of Musanze in Northern Province, Rubavu and Rusizi in Western Province, Muhanga and Huye in Southern Province, and Nyagatare in Eastern Province were set up as a way to equitably distribute economic activities across the country.
Speaking during the launch of the report in Kigali on Tuesday, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), said strategic foresight is an approach that aims at making the future more predictable, looking at the challenges, different scenarios and trying to forge the best scenarios to respond to current necessities, need and transformation.
Shyaka said a team of consultants travelled to all of the six secondary cities, where they engaged with district officials and also undertook a rigorous approach to foresighting the future of Rwanda.
Devadas Krishnadas, the chief executive of Future-Moves Group, recommended that secondary cities focus on institutional building, and capacity building in leadership but orient their economic development to niche sectors which will give them export potentials.
Devadas said the secondary cities initiative is a way of promoting growth beyond Kigali “and by distributing growth, we are creating inclusive participative environment in the economy and society, which will ensure inclusive development.”
Niche sector strategy
The report said niche sector strategies would capitalise on the unique strengths of each district either in location, natural resources, human capacity or infrastructure progress.
The strategy should be the primary economic engine to drive sustainable growth and development in each city, by creating high value-addition and sustainable jobs to uplift standards of living.
This strategy recognises the specific endowments of each secondary city.
Based on the evaluation of the secondary cities, the report recommended that Nyagatare, Rubavu, Muhanga and Rusizi should focus resources on potential growth engines.
It says the available resources in these four secondary cities should be prioritised to support their development, as the potential to generate sustainable economic growth through export-oriented strategies is relatively high.
It was recommended that Huye and Musanze focus on supporting national development, where it was deduced that Huye has great potential to solve human capacity issues that exist in the country.
“It is a long term effort for Huye to raise the skills and production of the national labour force,” the report reads in part.
According to the survey, Musanze is a popular touristic destination. It can continue to serve as an “ambassador” to attract foreign tourists and introduce them to the country’s cultural, social and intellectual spheres.
Currently, the report says, urbanisation rate in Rwanda is 17 per cent.
Infrastructure minister James Musoni said the Government seeks to have 35 per cent of citizens live in urban areas by 2020.
“These cities will have infrastructure, including clean water, good roads, electricity, good schools and all that make people leave [their districts] for Kigali,” he said adding that the government will build industries in those cities to create jobs.
Muhanga Mayor Beatrice Uwamariya said the district will focus on business development through increasing off-farm activities.
She, however, noted that the challenge will be the expropriation and compensation of residents when there is infrastructure to be set up, because there are people who are reluctant to move, yet they are not meeting the city standards.
Under EDPRS II blueprint, the Government targets average economic growth of 11.5 per cent from the average 8 per cent growth registered in the recent years.