Jean Bosco Hakizimana, 40, left his village of Musange in Nyamagabe district, Southern Rwanda in 2008 to earn a living in capital Kigali.
The father of three was employed as a technician at Utexrwa, a textile company. He never returned home, but for rare family events.
“Life is in Kigali, period,” he says. But Hakizimana might soon think twice, if everything works as planned.
The government is implementing a master plan to establish six strategic secondary cities: Muhanga and Huye in South, Rubavu and Rusizi in West, Nyagatare and Musanze from Eastern and Northern Province.
These cities will redirect employment to rural areas and avoid growing rural-urban migration. There are heavy investments in infrastructure going on, such as electricity, roads, hospitals, schools and taxi-parks.
Businesses are also expanding to further towns, suppressing pressure that has increasingly been chocking Kigali.
In Muhanga town, 50km from Kigali, Sonarwa, the country’s largest insurer, is raising a-4story building. Bank of Kigali (BK), the largest local bank, has inaugurated a-4story building too.
With medium businesses mushrooming, financial institutions are following the winds. Manufacturers and importers are opening branches in these cities too.
Burundian traders in the souther province, and Congolese traders in the north, major importers of Rwandan goods, don’t travel to Kigali anymore to access the goods or services.
In the district of Huye, for example, a predomintaly coffee growing area, has announced that its annual revenues will double upto Rwf2 billion ($2.8 million) from taxes after the newly constructed ($6.5 million) modern bus terminal.
“Our revenues from taxes will increase from Rwf1 billion to Rwf2 billion ($2.8M) every year,” Huye mayor, Kayiranga Muzuka Eugene told KTPress.
The bus terminal dubbed ‘Smart park’ , connecting bus routes to all parts of the country, was inaugurated on April 12, by President Paul Kagame. It is now the most modernized facility of its kind in the country.
The facility is owned by Kigali Veteran Cooperative Society (KVCS) and Loyal Trust Company owned by retired servicemen.
The facility has capacity to accommodate 200 vehicles on its three paved parking yards. It includes; 3-storied commercial complexes with 82 shops, a hotel, three modern restaurants; a petrol station; administration blocks, a car washing bay and an internet cafes.
Charles Nzaramba, director of administration at KVCS says the company intends to establish similar projects in districts of Nyanza and Muhanga. “It’s an ongoing project.”
Didas Gakwaya, a civil engineer told KTPress that the park is installed with a hi-speed wi-fi to match with the country’s ‘digital life’ vision. “This is the first smart bus park in East African region,” he said.
Rwanda, being a landlocked nation, with 11 million people and one of the most densely populated countries on earth, is facing a fast growing rural-urban migration into the only capital city, Kigali, just 730 km².
The pressure has lead to high unemployment and slums widening. The plan is to divert the trend by 35% in 2020 from 17% today, says Augustin Kampayana, director of rural development.
Joan Clos, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Habitat told, who visited the country in February, told KT Press that, “We have seen sudden collapse of several mega cities…it is wise to have secondary cities.”
Kampayana adds that, expansion of cities mostly near boarders with neighboring countries, will boost trade and tourism and create jobs.
National unemployment rate is 3.4%, representing 8% and 2.4% in cities and villages respectively, 200,000 jobs gap annually.
Meanwhile Hakizimana says“I will return to Musange provided a lifestyle which allows me to earn a living from off farm job.”
Additional reporting by Dan Ngabonziza