Jonathan Bower

Jonathan Bower is a Country Economist at the IGC in Rwanda. He holds an MSc in Development Economics from SOAS, University of London (with Distinction) and a Bachelors degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford. Prior to joining the IGC, he spent three years in Rwanda working in policy research administration and resource mobilization at peacebuilding organisation Aegis Trust. In 2010-2013 he was an Overseas Development Institute Fellow, then Resource Economist focusing on agriculture, at the Land Resources Division in Secretariat of the Pacific Community. His research interests include urban spatial development, affordable housing, infrastructure, municipal finance, and firm productivity.

Content by Jonathan Bower
  • Publication - Working Paper

    Is there an urban wage premium in Rwanda?

    This paper uses household data from Rwanda to analyse the urban wage premium and urban consumption premium. We find that both nominal wage and nominal consumption of workers in Rwanda are significantly higher in urban areas than in rural areas - and correlate to city size - even when individual characteristics are controlled for. This implies some form of agglomeration...

    22 Mar 2021 | Jonathan Bower, Sakshi Gupta, Carlo Menon

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Transforming the vision of Kigali: The economic case for investing in public parks

    Major public green spaces define the vision and lifestyle of great cities. Several great African cities have their own major central parks but, as of 2020, Kigali does not. Investing in a system of public parks would transform the vision of the city. Rwanda has a laudable set of policies and plans for public green spaces, but political will and funding are needed to...

    15 Mar 2021 | Jonathan Bower, Remy Ruberambuga, Patrick McSharry

  • Publication - Working Paper

    The commercial real estate market in the city of Kigali

    City of Kigali commissioned a review of the Kigali Master Plan in 2018-2019, which was then conducted by urban planning company Surbana Jurong. As part of this review the City requested that a number of baseline studies are done to inform the review, of which this study, which covers commercial real estate, is one. The objective of the project is to present a range of...

    7 Jan 2021 | Dickson Malunda, Martin Ruzima, Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Jobs in a crisis: Principles of effective public employment programmes

    This brief outlines the role of public employment programmes (PEPs) in overall economic crisis response with reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment has spiked in developing countries, due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as national lockdowns and the indirect effects of the economic global shock from the pandemic. PEPs often form part of...

    20 Nov 2020 | Jonathan Bower, Adia Umulisa, Twivwe Siwale, Veronica Masubo, Joevas Asare, Clément Imbert

  • Blog post

    Overcrowding and pandemic risk hotspots in Rwanda

    Proximity between people, otherwise known as population density, is the foundation of prosperity and productivity in cities. There is no empirical link between the spread of COVID-19 risk and city population density. However, when population density is not well managed and becomes overcrowding, the risk of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases, rises. The COVID-19...

    12 Oct 2020 | Jonathan Bower, Anirudh Rajashekar

  • Publication - Project Report

    Densification without contagion? Overcrowding and pandemic risk hotspots in Rwanda

    In this paper, we estimate the location of overcrowding hotspots in Kigali and five secondary cities in Rwanda using a variant of the methodology used recently by the World Bank in Mumbai, Kinshasa and Greater Cairo. This is of interest for three key reasons. First, whilst overcrowding is an imperfect proxy for the type of close interpersonal contact that spreads...

    12 Oct 2020 | Anirudh Rajashekar, Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    The impact of scaling up electric motorbikes in Rwanda

    Approximately one in five trips in Kigali are taken by petrol-fuelled motorcycle taxis, contributing to poor air quality, high demand for imported fuel, and rising Green House Gas emissions that contribute to climate change. This brief analyses the potential impact of scaling up the use of electric motorbikes to 100% (as a proportion of all motorbike taxis) in Kigali...

    24 Aug 2020 | Andrew Sudmant, Egide Kalisa, Jonathan Bower

  • Project

    Mapping urban pandemic risk hotspots and overcrowding in Rwanda

    As Rwanda's COVID-19 count enters a period of relative stability due to a highly effective public health response, policymakers are turning their attention to the best way to lift social-distancing restrictions in a manner that allows businesses and social engagements to resume while simultaneously ensuring adequate public health. Key questions for the government in...

    6 Aug 2020 | Anirudh Rajashekar, Jonathan Bower

  • Blog post

    Rwanda’s response to COVID-19 and future challenges

    Containment efforts have been effective; however, an impending global recession means the economic impacts of the pandemic will continue to be felt. In Rwanda, as of 19 May 2020, there have been 297 cases of COVID-19, of which 94 are active. There have been no deaths. These statistics are remarkable for the low number of cases and the fact that there have been no deaths so...

    19 May 2020 | Jonathan Bower, Derek Apell, Anna Twum, Adia Umulisa

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    A road map for e-mobility transition in Rwanda

    Electric vehicles (EV) are gaining popularity among both governments and the private sector globally as an energy efficient mobility technology and the Government of Rwanda (GoR) embraces the fact that their expansion is now inevitable, as they aim to scale up their nascent e-moto industry. The researchers recommend e-mobility be implemented in the context of a wider...

    13 May 2020 | Jitendra Bajpai, Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Optimal construction permit fees for Rwanda

    To successfully manage rapid urban growth and its attendant challenges, and to implement effective development control, municipal authorities need to increase revenue from construction permits and other sources. Rwanda’s ranking in the Dealing with Construction Permits subcomponent of the World Bank’s Doing Business index is rising, but the Government is keen to...

    4 May 2020 | Paida Hlambelo, Jonathan Bower, Adia Umulisa, Fred Mugisha

  • Publication - Miscellaneous

    Creating opportunity from crisis: Raising worker productivity during the pandemic

    Rwanda’s coronavirus “lockdown”, which began on Sunday 22nd March 2020, requires that a large number of people suddenly work from home. This has become increasingly common globally: across the EU, around 17% of employees work from outside their employer’s physical premises using ICT tools; however, working from home (WFH) is a much newer phenomenon among...

    27 Mar 2020 | Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Working Paper

    Using machine learning and remote sensing to value property in Rwanda

    18 Feb 2020 | Paul Brimble, Patrick McSharry, Felix Bachofer, Jonathan Bower, Andreas Braun

  • Publication - Policy paper

    Housing policies in Rwanda: Riding the urbanisation whirlwind

    3 Feb 2020 | Jonathan Bower, Robert Buckley

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Density, connectivity and liveability: Linking the Kigali Master Plan to economic development

    The 2013 Kigali Master Plan has contributed to Kigali becoming one of the most liveable and green cities on the continent. However, it has been criticised for being disconnected from economic planning, by being overly rigid, unevenly regulated and unaffordable for households and businesses to implement. Whilst the Kigali 2018 Master Plan Review is on course to do...

    15 Jan 2020 | Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Working Paper

    Six key trends in housing conditions in Rwanda from 2011 to 2017

    5 Dec 2019 | Jonathan Bower, Adia Umulisa, Theres Lessing

  • Project

    Commercial real estate market study, Kigali, Rwanda

    Zoning regulations in Kigali City have had a major impact on commercial real estate and particularly rents. Commercial property rent prices are often based on cost and are frequently unaffordable to target businesses. However,  the challenge of ensuring supply meets demand and that commercial real estate development supports wider densification and spatial planning goals,...

    27 Nov 2019 | Dickson Malunda, Martin Ruzima, Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Housing need in Kigali: Findings and policy reflections

    16 Jul 2019 | Jonathan Bower, Sally Murray

  • Publication - Project Report

    Housing need in Kigali

    10 Jul 2019 | Jonathan Bower, Sally Murray, Robert Buckley, Laura Wainer

  • Project

    Housing need in Kigali

    The Government of Rwanda would like to understand the quantity of housing need in Kigali, and to update it from an earlier 2012 study conducted by the European Union, as well as to understand how to expand low-cost housing. This project estimates: i) the quantity of housing needed in Kigali, Rwanda; and ii) the purchasing power of tenant and mortgage-holding...

    8 Jan 2019 | Jonathan Bower, Sally Murray, Robert Buckley, Laura Wainer

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Improving teacher management and professional development: A survey of the policy landscape in Rwanda

    An important policy question in Rwanda is how can schools attract, motivate, develop, and retain skilled teachers who will deliver positive learning outcomes. The centralisation of the hiring and teacher allocation process, proposed to take place in the 2018/19 school years, provides an opportunity to address the challenges associated with this policy question. ...

    7 Jan 2019 | Andrew Zeitlin, Jonathan Bower

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Harnessing the potential of ICT for education in Rwanda

    The Government of Rwanda’s Education Sector Strategic Plan describes the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in general as “fundamental” to achieving the socio-economic development outlined in Vision 2050, and its use in education as “critical”. Technology in education has significant potential to increase equality of access to and use of...

    7 Jan 2019 | Andrew Zeitlin, Jonathan Bower

  • Blog post

    Challenges and choices in the Rwandan education system: R3 roundtable discussion

    Education is a vital part of any economic growth strategy. However, implementation in Rwanda must overcome a number of challenges including dropout rates, nutrition, teaching hours, teacher recruitment and management, and the need to develop a reading culture. In this blog post, Jonathan Bower describes presentations by researchers from Laterite and from Georgetown...

    7 Jan 2019 | Jonathan Bower