Panel Seven: The Way Forward
Rwanda faces an important opportunity in its urbanisation process: cities, as engines of growth, can encourage and promote economic development. While Kigali remains the centrepiece of Rwanda’s urbanisation, due to its size and importance, secondary cities will likely become important as well. There are a number of ways that Rwanda can meet the challenge of sustainable, pro-growth urbanisation head-on: first, by establishing a master plan for both Kigali and the secondary cities. This plan would be holistic – keeping in mind the role each city plays at both the national and regional levels – and it would be future-minded – planning, for example, the infrastructure investments needed for future urban growth.
The next step is in identifying financing mechanisms to ensure revenue sustainability: this revenue would feed directly into implementing the plan. Financial mechanisms discussed by this high-level panel included capital markets and tax revenue mobilisation. A third step is in designing affordable housing which is truly affordable, accessible and desirable to Rwanda’s low- and middle-income groups. Coupled with this is the need to build cities upwards (as well as outwards): vertical building is still culturally new in Rwanda, and efforts to sensitise the population and normalise multi-story housing are needed.
The panel noted that, in order to move an urbanisation strategy forward, an institutional framework would need to be outlined. Notably, the point was made that the government should time its investments accordingly so that nothing is prematurely rushed whilst investment is not delayed either. Similarly, it was recommended that policymakers throughout the Government of Rwanda would also need to become sensitised to the importance of urban strategies in the broader economic growth agenda.