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Kigali Innovation City Masterplan, Rwanda

Laura Puttkamer
Kigali

Last December the urban masterplan for the development of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) project was revealed. The construction is expected to start in 2022, with a projected cost of $300 million.

All photos: CMU-Africa

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Last December the urban masterplan for the development of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) project was revealed. It serves as the blueprint for the 61 hectares site which entails the development and construction of a mixed-use world-class and smart innovation hub. The construction is expected to start in 2022, with a projected cost of $300 million. More about the project here.

In December 2021, the pan-African investment platform Africa50, the Rwandan Development Board and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation of Rwanda unveiled an urban masterplan for the Kigali Innovation City project. This masterplan is the blueprint for a 61-hectare site for Kigali’s Innovation City, which will include universities, office spaces, research and development facilities, and start-up incubators. In addition, retail, hospitality, and accommodation will form part of the Innovation City.

The Kigali Innovation City Plans

With the masterplan, Kigali is looking to develop and construct a mixed-use smart innovation hub that will develop cutting-edge solutions to stimulate economic growth in the region, in Rwanda and on the continent.

Today, Kigali Innovation City already houses two universities, the Carnegie Mellon University Africa, and the Africa Leadership University. A third university, the University of Rwanda Centre of Biomedical Engineering and E-health, is currently under construction.

Construction for the infrastructure of the Kigali Innovation City, located in the city’s Special Economic Zone, will start in 2022. Infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity will occupy the first phase of construction, which is expected to be finished in two to three years. Costs for the project are estimated at around 300 million USD.

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A green flagship initiative

The Kigali Innovation City will not only be a knowledge hub, but also part of a connected and collaborative ecosystem. The masterplan outlines solutions for smart facility management and for green transportation, building design, construction, and management. In addition, adequate green and open spaces that foster collaboration and idea exchanges will be part of this ecosystem.

The existing universities already use up almost a third of the land. Thus, construction of the remaining parts of KIC will take part in phases to respect these infrastructures. A visitor centre and some offices will be the first new buildings. The flagship project will be environmentally friendly with 50 per cent open space. It will also have an urban forest, a system for the use of rainwater and additional eco-friendly projects.

These are the main quantitative goals of the KIC flagship initiative by the Government of Rwanda:

  • Creating over 50,000 jobs during the project lifetime
  • Generating 150 million USD in ICT exports
  • Attracting over 300 million USD in foreign direct investment

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A pan-African innovation hub

During the ceremony for the Kigali Innovation City masterplan presentation, Honorable Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation of Rwanda, explained: “Rwanda’s social and economic transformation agenda requires bold investments in innovation and technology. KIC provides both the physical infrastructure and ecosystem as we position Rwanda to become a pan African innovation hub and to grow our knowledge economy.”

Shareholders of Kigali Innovation City include Africa50 and the Rwanda Development Board. Clare Akamanzi, who eventually signed the shareholders agreement on behalf of the Rwandan government, said: “We are pleased with the close partnership between Africa50 and Government of Rwanda which has allowed us to accelerate the development of the project and finalize the pre-development activities required to attract additional private sector players to co-develop and co-finance this strategic project with the Government and Africa50.”

Similarly, representatives of Africa50 expressed their satisfaction with this new milestone for investment projects in Rwanda. The pan-African infrastructure investment firm will provide support to mobilise additional private sector funds for Kigali Innovation City.

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The shareholders of Kigali Innovation City

Kigali Innovation City is a government-led project. Its co-developers are Africa50 and the Rwanda Development Board. Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that aims to contribute to the growth of the African continent by developing and investing in bankable infrastructure projects, catalysing public sector capital, and mobilising private sector funding. currently, Africa50 has 31 shareholders, which include 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States, and Bank Al-Maghrib.

Rwanda Development Board consists of government agencies responsible for investors. This includes agencies dedicated to business registration, investment promotion, environmental clearances and privatisation. Furthermore it includes specialist agencies for the priority sectors ICT, tourism, SMEs, and human capacity development.

The Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation is working closely with these two stakeholders to implement Kigali Innovation City.

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