Competitive Cities: Kigali, Rwanda – governance, growth and gorillas
March 16, 2016 Editor 0
Natural attractions, clean streets and modern high-rise buildings: Kigali, Rwanda.
In mid-2014, the World Bank’s Competitive Cities team visited Kigali, Rwanda, the only national capital among our six case studies of economically successful cities around the world, representing the Sub-Saharan Africa Region. Kigali and Rwanda as a whole have enjoyed some of the continent’s fastest growth rates, in terms of both jobs and incomes, albeit from a comparatively low starting point. We aimed to understand the factors and specific interventions underpinning this success and to extract some lessons for other cities.
Rwandan society has made a remarkable recovery since the genocide and economic dislocation of the 1990s, when the country lost a significant share of its population and productive capacity. The process of rebuilding its infrastructure and institutions, and of creating an enabling environment for private-sector growth, has been a painstaking one.
Unlike some other countries in its region, Rwanda is a relatively small market, is landlocked and is without developed transportation infrastructure or significant natural-resource endowments. Key selling points to attract international investors have therefore included Rwanda’s recent stability, quality of life, improving human capital and natural beauty. In particular, its tropical mountain scenery, lakes and volcanoes, its biodiversity, and its gorillas in the wild have been major draws for leisure visitors, while improving convention and meetings facilities has been aimed at turning Kigali into a regional hub for business travelers.
Rwanda’s National Plans include strategies for the development of targeted sectors (such as tourism, ICT, financial and professional services, mining and agriculture). In the mid-2000s, the implementation of a national Land Tenure Regularization Program dramatically improved Rwanda’s land-registration process, enabling the functioning of land markets based on private ownership – and, by extension, Rwanda’s subsequent real-estate and construction boom, providing a strong boost to GDP growth and job creation.
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