The 24-hour opening policy for businesses is yet to catch on, especially in the Central Business District (CBD) which was the main target for the encouragement.
Uptown Kigali is very quiet and dull, few shops open beyond 9PM as businesses shift to neighbourhoods. Even then, apart from major supermarket outlets and nightspots that cater for their clients throughout the night, others turn into business graveyards.
Some have argued that the 24-hour service delivery culture has not sunk in yet and most people on the streets past midnight are later night revellers and taxi-moto operators. Most Kigali dwellers are tucked in by then.
Others are of the view that the Kigali market is too small to warrant a trans-night shopping experience apart from eating spots and petrol stations, but the opposite is true. What lacks is the culture to sink in. One just needs to pay a visit to Simba Supermarket to realise that if people know that service is around the clock they will give their patronage.
For a country that is reputed as one of the safest in the world, there is one niche that the authorities have ignored in the tourism sector; late night tourism.
Most visitors on the African continent are horrified by the idea of venturing out into the night. But a Kigali–by-night tour can help quell those fears and in the process attract more service providers to keep their doors open.
For example, the normally abandoned CBD could open up to all sorts of businesses, from roadside bazaars and food stalls that could easily be dismantled before the close of the night to allow cleanup.
Ideas to make Kigali a vibrant city are not lacking but they need to be given openings. Authorities could begin by encouraging a reliable round-the-clock transport system, not the rip-off culture where late night taxi drivers hike their fares; a take-it-or-leave-it situation. But that obstacle could be overcome if authorities would strictly implement the taxi-meter policy, otherwise nocturnal Kigali has potential.