How Kigali City Manages to Steer its Rapid Development

The city’s planning is a vivid product of the modernist ideal that has transformed Kigali into a 21-century living and working environment.

From something resembling a provincial town two decades ago to a thriving urban area, Kigali is no doubt becoming a most auspicious modern city by all definitions.

The city’s planning is a vivid product of the modernist ideal that has transformed Kigali into a 21-century living and working environment. It is fast becoming a shining modern metropolis with mushrooming skyscrapers, constantly evolving and keeping up with modern times.

1491322663Obtaining construction permits has become much easier and faster
Obtaining construction permits has become much easier and faster.
City of Kigali

The Infrastructure Department is at the forefront of Kigali’s rapid development. It is responsible for overseeing the construction of roads, installing street lights for safety at night, improvement projects on the over 732 km of roads that constitute the backbone of the infrastructure for the capital with more than 1.2 million residents, and handling solid and liquid waste issues.

The department works with various ministries, utility companies and the districts in the City of Kigali. Its diverse responsibilities are divided into five main areas: Roads & Drainage, Energy & Lighting, Water & Sanitation, Traffic Management and Public Transport.


Less than 50% had access to improved and clean water in 1994. As per now, 89% have access to clean water.


In 1994, only 40% of the city’s residents had access to electricity; two decades later, 67.4% of the city is connected including schools, hospitals, households, and industrial complexes.


Not so long ago, Kicukiro District counted only one tarmac road – the one from Kanogo to Remera and Kanombe – while there were only a few kilometres of tarmac in Nyarugenge and Kiyovu, the city centre. There was also the Kimihurura-Kacyiru road providing access to most ministries, and the road leading to and from the airport.

Today, Nyarutarama, Kibagabaga, Kimuhurura, Kimironko, Remera have cobblestoned roads as well as tarmac.

National roads to or from Kigali such as the Gatuna to Nyabugogo had 102km of tarmac by 2001. Today there are 360km of national roads with tarmac. There were no cobblestoned roads then, now there are 25km of them and recently a new project was launched for another 100km in Remera, Gatenga and Rwezamenyo. There are plans to cover all areas between cobblestoned roads and tarmac.

1491322780There are 25km of cobblestoned roads in Kigali and a new project was launched for another 100km in Remera Gatenga and Rwezamenyo
There are 25km of cobblestoned roads in Kigali and a new project was launched for another 100km in Remera, Gatenga and Rwezamenyo.

Since the inception and implementation of the Kigali Master Plan, all activities including the construction of buildings and roads have to be carried out in accordance with it. The recent past has witnessed the construction of asphalt roads including the ETO Muhima road network of 0.7km, the completion of a 3-year project of 34km in Nyamirambo-Rugarama (3.3km), Gishushu-Inilak-Shell (4.5km) and Cercle sportif-Rwampara-Gikondo (2.4km), while another 15.5km project is in progress.

Work has been done to secure ravines in Rwarutabura, Kove, and the rehabilitation of Mpazi as well as the construction of bridges in Nyabugogo (2), Kanogo, Rugunga, Cyumbati, Gisozi and Karuruma.

Maintenance of murram and earth roads has also been carried out in Ndera-Jurwe-Gikomero (17km), Karuruma-Amakawa-Bweramvura (7km), Gahanga (3km), Gatenga (2.5km), Nyarugunga (2.5), Gakoni-Ruharabuge (2.5km), Suncity-Rugarama-Gasharu (3km) and Nyamweru-Mont Kinyinya (1.5km).

On the main roads and in several parts of Kigali, street lighting has been installed.

Master plan

The Kigali conceptual master plan is a key element to move the city, and the nation, forward. The capital’s population is expected to double, or even triple, in the next 25 years. The master plan addresses this exponential growth, incorporating a wide range of ecological, social, and economic strategies. From developing infrastructure to walkable neighbourhood centres and urban agriculture, the plan responds to this transforming community’s needs, now and in the future.

The Kigali Conceptual Master Plan is an exemplary master plan that truly addresses the vision and development needs of an emerging city such as Kigali.

1491322694On the main roads and in several parts of Kigali street lighting has been installed
On the main roads and in several parts of Kigali street lighting has been installed

Thanks to the Master Plan, the City of Kigali (CoK) has been able to enhance the doing business reforms, reducing the number of procedures to obtain construction permits from 10 to 5 over the years, while bringing down the delay from 77 days to 20.

Special attention is given to the quality of buildings in the city, in collaboration with professionals in the construction industry such as architects, engineers, and supervisors.

CoK has introduced a Construction Permit Information Management System which allows applicants to access all related services online. Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with telecom companies to facilitate the payment of permits using this system.

Thanks to this, a big number of residential and commercial properties have been constructed and work on many more is still in progress.

Investors have been attracted to property development which has led to the magnificent skyline that the city enjoys today.

In addition, many Rwandans now have the opportunity to own a home with the affordable housing projects already in place and being implemented, boosting the confidence of the population and investors on the long term growth of the country. This is mainly thanks to the government’s strong leadership.

City Beautification

Huge efforts have been made to make the city a more beautiful, attractive and enjoyable place to live. 77.5km of roads have been adorned with 25,848 ornamental trees, existing green and paved areas have been maintained and an extra 55 hectares developed.

Free Wi-Fi hotspots were installed in public places such as the Car-Free Zone in the city’s Central Business District.

New road designs have been developed and signage has been installed on all the main and some peripheral roads.

Sustainable greenery

Amid this unprecedented development, the city authorities have made it priority to keep Kigali clean.

For example, for any real-estate development to be approved, it should have at least between 10 and 20% greenery.

The city also continuously encourages people to plant flowers and trees in their plots, perimeter walls and surrounding areas.

Socioeconomic support

The city has undertaken several projects to assist vulnerable groups, mainly women and youths, so that they don’t get involved in unprofitable or illegal activities such as street hawking, drugs abuse or begging.

Throughout the city, modern markets and selling points have been established to resettle street vendors. These include Gikomero modern market and market infrastructures, COPCOM, ADARWA, Gisozi Complex, Mulindi Commercial complex and Rusheshe and Nyamirambo mini markets.

In addition, the city supports women organized in cooperatives to make handicrafts that are readily sold to tourists.

Lastly, through the Kigali Employment Service Centre, the city contributes to the Government’s target of reducing unemployment by offering information on the labour market and career guidance especially to youth.

The centre also connects jobseekers to training and qualification opportunities, coaches them on how best to proceed with an application process and connects employers and jobseekers thus saving organisations time and money in their recruitment processes.


Read this article and more in issue n° 73 of Hope Magazine.

  • By Hope Magazine
  • Posted 4th April 2017


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