Kigali is the largest city and capital of Rwanda. It became the capital upon the country’s independence in 1962, since then, the city has become Rwanda's economic, cultural, and transport hub and hosts the main residence and offices of the President and government ministries.
Kigali is located in the centre of the country on the Ruganwa River and is divided into three administrative districts, Nyarugenge, which lies in the south west, Kicukiro in the south east, and Gasabo, which occupies the northern half of the city's territory. Kigali lies in a region of rolling hills, between the two mountains of Mount Kigali and Mount Jali,
Like the rest of Rwanda, Kigali has a temperate tropical highland climate, with temperatures that are cooler than typical for equatorial countries because of its high elevation. Under the Köppen climate classification, Kigali is in the tropical savanna climate zone, straddling the subtropical highland climate.
Data and Facts
- The city of Kigali was founded in 1907 by German administrator and explorer Richard Kandt.
- Rwanda has the world’s highest representation of women in parliament. 64% of Rwanda’s members of parliament are women.
- In 2007, Rwanda became the first country in the world to legislate an outright ban on plastic bags.
- Kigali is by far the largest city in Rwanda with a population of 745,261, and more than a million people living in the greater metropolitan area.
- Head of state: President Paul Kagame, since 2000.
- Language: English, French, Kinyarwanda.
- Country motto: Unity, Work, Patriotism
- Currency: Rwandan franc (RWF)
- GDP nominal: US$10.2 billion; GDP per capita US$ 2,444
- Median Age: 19.2 years
- Religion: 93.8% Christianity, 2.2% Islam, 3% unaffiliated, 0.7% Folk.
Rwanda is a presidential republic in which the chief of state is the president, elected by popular vote for a seven-year term, and is eligible for a second term, and the head of government is the prime minister. The bicameral parliament consists of a senate of 26 members, both elected and appointed to serve eight-year terms, and a chamber of deputies of 80 seats, including 53 members elected by popular vote, 24 women elected by local bodies, and three selected by youth and disability organizations, all to serve five-year terms.
Kigali is politically stable. The government consists of a province-level city administered by a city council who appoints an executive committee to run the day-to-day operations of the city. The executive committee consists of a mayor and two deputies.
The city is split into three administrative districts called sectors: Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge.
Rwanda is considered a developing economy and as such it is a rural country with about 90 percent of the population engaged in agriculture. It is the most densely populated country in Africa and is landlocked with few natural resources and minimal industry.
Primary foreign exports are coffee, tea, pyrethrum extract, tin, tantalite, and gold. Imports include machinery and equipment, petroleum products, and foodstuffs.
Mines for tin ore operates nearby Kigali, and the city built a smelting plant in the 1980s.
Tourism currently provides an important input to the economy as well. The government has encouraged development of this sector, which is centred on the country’s attractive landscapes and wildlife diversity. National parks are the primary attraction.
An area showing growth promise is the exhauster truck market, with five out of seven companies having been active for three years or less.
The Rwanda Stock Exchange, located in Kigali, opened in 2008.
The 1994 genocide decimated Rwanda's fragile economic base, severely impoverished the population and eroded the country's ability to attract private and external investment. It is noted that one million Rwandans overcame poverty between 2006 and 2011. However, Rwanda has made substantial progress in stabilizing and rehabilitating its economy. Innovative homegrown development solutions have reduced poverty. For example, the Girinka programme, which provides every poor family in Rwanda with a cow, has reduced malnutrition, increased agricultural productivity and created small business opportunities.
Rwanda is also home to many financial institutions, including commercial and development banks. The National Bank of Rwanda is the central bank and issues the national currency, the Rwandan franc.
Business in Rwanda has been growing in the 21st century, and many new buildings have arisen across the city, including the BCDI Tower, Centenary House, Kigali City Tower and Kigali Convention Centre.
According to the government master plan for 2040, Kigali will be soon decentralised, with business, shopping, and leisure districts, and suburbs. The plan calls for skyscrapers, arching pedestrian walkways and green spaces to be built, alongside amenities such as fountains and a wetlands conservation area. In addition, there will be an effective public transportation network.
The government has an Infrastructure department that takes the lead role of planning and developing infrastructure in Kigali. It is responsible for overseeing the construction of roads, providing street lights at night and handling solid & liquid waste issues.
Kigali is the hub of the Rwanda transport network, with hourly express bus routes to all major towns in the country. There are also taxi minibus services (matatus) leaving from Kigali for the major towns and motorbike taxis.
It is noted that public transport within Kigali is shifting from using small matatus to bigger city buses, which are connecting the most important sectors. These buses use a cash-free payment system called Tap&Go.
The city has an international airport, Kigali International Airport which is limited by its location on the top of a hill, that is why a brand new airport is currently under construction in the Nyamata area, about 40 km from Kigali.
Kigali International Airport has passenger connections daily to Nairobi and less frequently to Addis Ababa, Brussels, Bujumbura and Johannesburg. There are also weekly cargo flights to Amsterdam.
Rwanda is leading Africa’s digital revolution. The Smart Kigali initiative will create access to free wireless internet on public buses, in hospitals, taxi parks, commercial buildings and restaurants, while a partnership with Korea Telecom is creating access to 4G for 95% of the population.
Under the government’s Kigali Masterplan 2040, high-rise buildings are set to change the city’s look and feel. The plan offers a vision for developing infrastructure that will be necessary for modern Kigali’s success.
The current city population of about 1.2 million is expected to triple by 2040. In a country where the majority are under the age of 25, traditional ideas are shifting, and the results are exciting:
The World Bank has pronounced Kigali Africa’s second easiest place to do business. Innovation City is part of the Vision 2020 goal that is already underway, which aims to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based, middle-income country. The project has also increased the number of students in higher learning.
Co-founded by American Jon Stever, the Impact Hub Kigali is an incubator where co-working spaces and portal connections to international, like-minded thinkers result in virtual global meet-ups. Regularly hosted edgy talks by entrepreneurs and creators in an inspiring rooftop space help locals connect in new ways to further develop ideas that will benefit the country.
Some of the most used startups within the city population during 2019 were Kasha, Carlsoko, Exuus or Yego Moto.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
Healthcare in Rwanda was historically of poor quality, but in recent decades has seen great improvement. Rwanda operates a universal health care system, and is considered to have one of the highest-quality health systems in Africa.This dramatic improvement in healthcare has seen life expectancy rise by 10 years in the last decade. Over 90% of Rwandans have access to medical insurance.
The education level in Rwanda, remains low despite implementation of the policies such as mandatory education for primary school (6 years) and lower secondary schooling (3 years) that is run by state schools. Nevertheless, there are many centers split through the city to complete diverse higher studies: The University of Rwanda, The UR College of Science and Technology campus, Carnegie Mellon University or The University of Kigali.
The main newspapers in English language in the city are New Times, published several times a week, plus the Ugandan New Vision and Monitor.
Radio Radio Rwanda is the government-run station, broadcasting in Kinyarwanda, French, Swahili and English. Television TV Rwandaise (TVR) is the state-owned broadcaster.
There are many important museums split around Kigali although the most visited one is
the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center, opened in April 2004. The memorial commemorates the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and is on the site where up to 250,000 genocide victims were buried in mass graves. The center is the hub of the Aegis Trust’s work in Rwanda.
The music of Rwanda encompasses Rwandan traditions of folk music as well as contemporary East African Afrobeat and Congolese ndombolo, and performers of a wide variety of Western genres including hip-hop, R&B, gospel music and pop ballads.
Drummers usually play together in groups of seven or nine. Rwanda has a growing popular music industry, influenced by East African, Congolese and American music. The most popular genres are hip-hop and R&B, often blended with ragga and dance-pop.
Kigali is a stronghold for basketball. Roughly half of the teams of Rwanda's National Basketball League are based there, including 2016 Champion Patriots BBC.