Members of Project Umubano, an initiative by the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party, has advised the government, Kigali authorities as well as developers to embrace apartments accommodation for better land management.
A team of seven urban planners, who have been in the country as part of the project’s latest mission, concluded that there was an urgent need for the country to turn to apartments to help sustain Rwanda’s urban planning.
The head of the team, Derek Latham, said the City of Kigali should leverage its Master Plan and ensure feasible settlement.
“The rapid population growth both in the city and the country at large calls for new thinking,” Latham told journalists on Thursday.
Kigali’s current population is estimated at 1.2 million, but it’s expected to reach 2.9 million by 2025, and five million in 2040.
About 17 per cent of Kigali is currently urban land, while 50 per cent is used for agriculture.
Both government and Kigali City Council officials have previously backed the idea, citing need for properly planned settlements.
The city has over 730 square kilometres of hills and valleys, with only 422,825 square metres appropriate for development.
Yet most Rwandans fancy a home with a yard and an annex, it was observed.
Esther Mutamba, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority, told this paper that government has already started sensitising the population on the benefits of what she called housing cooperative projects – beginning with civil servants”.
“Through cooperatives people will be able to construct apartments, we are optimistic it will work out,” Mutamba said. “It’s high time we learnt living together.
Government has set sights on having 40,000 rentable housing units by 2015 mostly for medium and low income earners.
It is estimated the country needs 25,000 housing units every year.
The president of Real Estate Association of Rwanda (REAR), Charles Haba, there is high demand for condominiums.
“We are facing a shortage of housing, the demand is high. For instance, 42 apartments in Palm Estate which were, recently, constructed by Ujenge Developers were all bought immediately upon completion,” Haba said.
An apartment ranges between Rwf28 million and 45 million.
Kenya Commercial Bank has initiated a scheme to help finance developers willing to construct apartments.
“We have so far received 15 apartment developers and they are willing to start off construction. We came up with the development to encourage people who would want to invest in such projects,” said Beatrice Chege, Head of Mortgage at KCB.
The UK urban planning experts, who toured Kigali, Musanze and Kayonza, also suggested that Rwandan towns should create their own identity and character which distinguishes them from other world cities.
Since 2007, over 230 British volunteers, including Members of Parliament, lawyers, medics, businesses, teachers and students have participated in Project Umubano.
The project was jointly set up by UK Prime Minister and Conservatives Party chief David Cameron, and British Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell.
Mitchell left Rwanda earlier this week after taking part in the project activities.