“To impel urbanization from real and current developments” 

Economic transformation that is taking place in Rwanda requires coordinated spatial development mechanisms to obtain a territory that reinforces development in one area with development in another. The SDF aligns with the overall goal of the National Strategy for Transformation 1 (NST1) and the National Urbanization Policy (NUP) to digitally provide direction for strengthening understanding and coordination of urbanization and to set principles for integrated development of satellite and secondary cities and other tiers of urban centres. 

Rwanda has ambitious plans of exiting from a low-income country to the middle-income country status with 35% of its population living in urban areas by 2024 (NST1), 50% by 2035 and 70% by 2050 (Vision 2050). Rwanda, like many other developing countries, places a high priority on urbanization as an engine enabling and supporting more diversified and resilient economic growth.  

The Government of Rwanda adopts various policies and strategies, land use and planning tools and related regulatory documents as one of the instruments to guide the development ambitions of the Country. However, these do not yet constitute a coherent framework allowing the implementation of diverse strategic plans, thus, the uncontrolled development of the territory. Due to the lack of a fast and powerful digital tool capable of spatially balancing the development trends of the country, this has generally yielded negative results in the context of prioritization and budget allocation - a key challenge is to spatially identify a well-structured system of areas to accommodate and meet the needs of the future urban and rural population. 

On the basis of Rwandan Vision, it is clear that the entire territory should sustainably play a crucial role in the development; planning is therefore necessary based on a thorough understanding of the territorial structure and ongoing developments in the Country. The SDF bridges the gap with the territory development plans and regulatory documents on territory development. The spatial analysis carried out using geographic information based tools allows visualizing the level of urban and socio-economic development at Country level to help coordinated planning, strategic and supported decision-making.  

The decentralisation of the SDF and its digital decision room to two secondary cities (Musanze and Rubavu) and three satellite cities (Muhanga, Rwamagana and Bugesera), which was taken as a piloting phase, aims to digitally and efficiently coordinate, plan and guide decision-making for infrastructures and facilities and to effectively serve their purpose while saving government financial resources through five project outcomes as follows: 

  • Capacity needs assessment of the intervention cities vis-à-vis to the existing SDF and Decision Room, 

  • Development of Urban Dynamic Map (UDM) as one of the means to collect data and feed the system, 

  • Digital decision room designing and setting 

  • Capacity building  

  • Platform maintenance 

“We, as Rwamagana authorities and our stakeholders, expect a lot from these projects funded by Enabel and Wehubit in the context of our city planning and development.” Mr. KAKOOZA Henry, The Executive Secretary of Rwamagana Satellite City said this in the three-day capacity building retreat involving 68 participants including district council, district stakeholders, senior management, unit directors and Joint Action Development Forum (JADF) members. This introductory session had the main objective of increasing the active participation and inclusive implementation of city activities and to improve the performance of each key player in the development of the Rwamagana city. 

The project will help getting the better understanding of the existing planning processes, identifying the potentialities in the adoption, institutionalisation and use of the SDF in planning activities at the cities’ level. The development of UDM will engage different stakeholders (including professionals, local authorities, members of the private sector and the general public) and actively participate in the collection of real time updated spatial and non-spatial data which is reliable for planning purposes, easily accessible and informative. To be able to visualise the data dashboards for key infrastructure and other facilities, each city will have a digital decision room that typically consists of hardware, software and local area network facilities which will be maintained over a period of a year.  Moreover, technical training and coaching activities will be conducted to equip all cities’ technical users with necessary skills, with the aim to effectively run the platform.