Rwanda’s construction sector continues to grow

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Construction Review speaks to Arc Eudes Kayumba (Msc in Building and Urban Design), the Chairman of Rwanda Architects and Quantity Surveyors Registration Board, Chairman of the Rwanda Green Building Council, Vice-President of African Union of Architects, and the MD of Landmark Limited, on a number of issues including the rise and rise of Rwanda’s construction and real estate sector, as well as why infrastructure is set to remain a hotbed for investment and development activity for the foreseeable future in the region.

What is the secret behind Rwanda’s construction and real estate sector’s growth? 

The lack of modern, good quality Office, Housing real estate for the ever expanding and growing middle class. But generally due to security, less or no corruption and good weather; many organizations are moving their activities in Rwanda.

What is being done to alleviate the shortage of professional architectural and engineering skills in the region?

The growing number of architects and engineers, in Rwanda and the region to reduce the ratio of the professionals to people has been helped by the output not only from universities (graduates) but also construction technicians from the various vocational schools. The number of universities in the region has increased with those options and technical and vocational training has been given more emphasis.

What are the challenges and opportunities faced by the members?
One of the major challenges is the low number of architects in Rwanda to provide the needed skills to the population, since independence of Rwanda in 1962, there hasn’t been any school of architecture until recently in 2009. We have now started to get our graduates from local university.

As part of East Africa Community we have East Africa Common Market Protocol that requires professionals to create Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA). We have already signed this agreement as Architects and this was done during my tenure as regional President.

The agreement between member states of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya has allowed free movement of architects between these states and has thus helped bridge any gaps that may appear.

Importance of Green Building Council in Rwanda and its role in creating clean cities

Rwanda aims to create six secondary cities and have taken the green city approach. In May this year Rwanda launched a National Roadmap for Green Secondary Cities Development.

The Vision 2020 that was elaborated in 2000 promotes the green growth.

In 2011, Rwanda elaborated the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy aiming to achieve development with low carbon domestic energy resources and practice, reducing its contribution to climate change by 2050. In its Programme 10: Low Carbon Urban System, Rwanda is to:

  • Adopt energy and water efficiency standards into building codes;
  • Establish an integrated multi-mode urban transport system;
  • Employ low carbon urban planning; and
  • Fully utilise urban waste as a high-value resource stream.

The Rwanda Urban Planning and Building Code of 2015 give guidelines on Green constructions and incentives for green buildings

With the physical effects of global warming manifesting in recent periods, the need for green sustainable building design has become more pertinent and especially since construction and its sub processes contribute a huge proportion to the carbon footprint.

But also keeping with the growing international standards like LEED (leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a Green Building Council is needed to help set standards, regulate practices and validate good construction processes.

What was the motivation of turning Kigali into one of the cleanest and greenest cities in Africa? 

Basically Kigali is considered the cleanest city on the continent and this is the same with other secondary cities around the country. Cleanliness is embedded in Rwanda culture but today’s environment has been helped more by making policies that conserves the nature.

Kigali is considered as the top clean and safe city in Africa by Gallup Global Law and Order 2015 Report. The City vision is that being clean you don’t need funds or experts.

Rwanda aims to create six secondary cities and have taken the green city approach. In May this year Rwanda launched a National Roadmap for Green Secondary Cities Development.

Rwanda being a small country blessed with immense natural environment seeks first to conserve this environment and maintain it for future generations to enjoy.

The only way the government’s vision for conservation to be achieved is with collective involvement and thus the community is at the forefront of this drive because they buy into 100% the need for a green and sustainable country.

What is attracting international architects to work in Rwanda?

The gap in the architectural services in Rwanda (the first architects graduated from University of Rwanda in 2013) and lack of experience leaves a void that international architects come to fill.

The variety of project typologies also encourages international architects because the freedom for practicing modern and evolving concepts is greater than in other countries in the region.

But beyond all that Rwanda is an open economy; rare professionals are encouraged to establish in the country and do business. In Rwanda you can register your business in less than a day, and that is if you walk in registration one stop centre. This might take you an hour or two if you do it online wherever you are around the World.
 Any room for the latest innovations in the built environment?

Rwanda is not held up by any past conceptions as it is rebuilding from the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, this has allowed the country to rebuild from a clean slate and thus testing new concepts, ideas are all received with an open mind.

The Euphoria that surrounds new concepts and ideas encouraged by the government and locals to help transform the country, this is where new projects have the chance and capacity to have a great impact.

Sustainability of the built environment in Rwanda

The sustainability of the built environment in Rwanda and in Kigali in particular would depend on the green approach and green buildings in particular. In November 2016 we are planning the launch of Rwanda Green Buildings Council. Of course last evening (8 September 2016) we signed a MoU with Singapore Building and Construction Authority on the promotion of development of green building for:

  • Capacity Building and knowledge exchange in design and development of Green Buildings and Cities
  • Development of Rwanda’s Green Building Standards

We believe that the path that is undertook by Rwanda to go for green economy is a comprehensive approach for green cities and green country. Good initiative like switching to LED lights from traditional electrical bulb and also the use of solar water heater for household are simple actions that have been taken by Government of Rwanda to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by households.

It has to be noted that Only 1 building (Nobilia) in Rwanda is certified green and received 6star award of Green-stars. Once developed it would be a landmark for Rwanda. Moreover, we are looking at the certification of the New Kigali Convention Centre that was inaugurated in July this year. It is a development of 86,000sqm (Hotel and convention centre) and more project are in pipeline for certification as we build our GBC and systems.

The sustainability of built environment in Rwanda and our cities would depend on:

  • Awareness raising for developers and government agencies
  • Capacity of local architects and engineers to find green solutions adapted to our country
  • The love of our cities (as mentioned yesterday by Mr Tai Lee – the Chairman of World Green Building Council)
  • The political will which is already a given in Rwanda.

What are the interesting upcoming projects of note in Rwanda?

In terms of infrastructure in the coming 5 years Rwanda aims at having:

  • a New International Airport,
  • an Olympic stadium and exhibition complex
  • 10,000 affordable housing units in cities and re-organise rural settlement with 70% of its population in grouped planned settlements.
  • Electricity for 70% of its population from current 28%.
  • Upgrading and creating roads connecting cities and districts
  • Construction of 2 office complexes – 45,000sqm for Government agencies and ministries
  • Design green secondary cities master plans and starting implementing them.


  1. The Proposed Drone port to deliver medical supplies in remote areas by Norman Foster architects The proposed children’s cancer treatment centre by David Adjaye architects The new arts center in Kigali by Groosman architects

    What are future sustainable projects on pipeline?

Rwanda and Kigali in particular has sought to take lessons from countries like South Korea and Singapore that have leaped to developed countries status and has thus set the base structural requirements to serve this leap.

A rapid bus transport system master plan for the city is complete and the next phase is the implementation stage,

The optic fibre cable that links all government institutions is almost complete powering these with fast 4g networks and also linking services and lastly,

All projects submitted to the city of Kigali for construction permits required to demonstrate sustainable concepts incorporated into the project, with the emergence of a Green Building Council, this process will be better streamlined


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