The City of Kigali (CoK) has dismissed claims by some business people that they would be relocated from different parts of the city and compelled to operate from shopping malls.
City traders, especially those working from a street commonly known as ‘Quartier Matheus’, were claiming plans were underway to evict them and give the land to big investors to set up commercial buildings.
Alphonse Nzeyimana, the City of Kigali vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic planning, however dismissed the claims, noting that though some commercial plazas were not fully occupied, they have no powers to force traders into malls.
He said the city authorities were working with investors and real estate managers to see how developers can attract tenants.
“Our strategy is not to move business people from one place to another...We are looking at availing commercial space from where different people can operate,” he said.
Nzeyimana was over the weekend speaking during the signing of a tenancy agreement between Kenyan retailer, Uchumi Supermarkets, and Champions Investment Corporation, a local holding company that is building one of the largest shopping centres in Rwanda to date.
The city vice-mayor noted that City Hall would always be ready to facilitate investors in the same way as they helped Uchumi get space to create jobs for residents.
“Creating employment opportunities is one of the main targets of the second phase of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II),” said Nzeyimana.
Nzeyimana said retail brands like Uchumi, would provide market for locally-produced items like vegetables and milk, boosting people’s income and reducing Rwanda’s import bill.
The first phase of the multi-billion franc structure at ENO-Muhima expected to cost Rwf16b will be completed by August 2015, according to Tharcisse Ngabonziza, the company board chairman.
He said the ultra-modern commercial complex, sitting on about 55,000 square metres, will also house retail shops, banks, restaurants and entertainment centres. Uchumi will be the anchor tenant, occupying about 3,000 square metres on two floors.
Uchumi Supermarkets chief executive officer Jonathan Ciano said the retailer would set up shop within 90 days after completion of the complex.
Ciano, however, revealed that the firm’s first branch would be opened in March next year in Giporoso, Remera in Gasabo District.
Uchumi’s coming strengthens further Rwanda’s position as a top destination for global goods and services’ firms. The 2014 African Retail Development Index by AT Kearney, a global consultancy firm released last month, indicated that was increasingly becoming a more attractive market in Africa.
The entry of Uchumi is set to increase competition with another Kenyan supermarket chain, Nakumatt, and local brands like Simba, Ndoli and Woodland supermarkets, for up-market shoppers.
Uchumi is expected to employ over 150 Rwandans.