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Theme : Urbanization, Urban Planning and Urban Governance

June 19, 2019 at Park Inn Kigali

Background

The Institute of Policy Analysis and Research(IPAR-Rwanda) is organising its 8th Annual Research Conference under the theme “Urbanisation, Urban Planning and Urban Governance” which will take place on June 19, 2019 at Park Inn Kigali in Kiyovu, Kigali.

Urbanisation is seen as a potential engine for productivity growth in Rwanda.1 With this respect the Country has set its urbanisation target to reach 35% by 2024, from 18.4% (2016/17). More urbanisation aims at increasing the socio-economic fabric through accrued vertical linkages and competition in the private sector, access to market, specialisation and diversification. It is also meant to boost structural transformation through movements of workers from less to more productive sectors, and especially from farm to off-farm activities.2 Urbanisation is hence expected to accelerate private-sector-led economic growth and increased productivity.3 Urbanisation is also expected to densify centres of excellence in various domains, including education, IT etc. and hence boost knowledge transfer among development actors of the country.

The 7 years Government programme 2017-2024 (NST-1), which is currently the leading strategic document for Rwanda’s development until 2024, identifies key strategic interventions to accelerate sustainable urbanisation. In the economic pillar, these include, but are not limited to, developing new master plans of the city of Kigali and the 6 secondary cities ; developing flagship projects in cities to support thriving and sustainable urban economies ; developing the “made in Rwanda” policy for local construction materials ; improving transportation services etc. Developing these key strategic interventions are expected to contribute to positive effects of increased urbanisation.

However, while urbanisation can boost economic growth, rural-urban migration may also bring challenges. Part of these challenges are related to the urban planning of growing cities, leading to housing and sanitation issues, among others. Access to safe water, development of affordable and sustainable housing, relocation of citizens living in high risk-zones are key practical issues, which will have to be taken into account into the development planning of the City of Kigali, the 6 secondary cities and other urban centres, in order for urbanisation to bring its expected gain.

International experiences have shown that urbanisation may well be accompanied by economic development and an increase in per capita income. This was mainly the case in East Asia in, among other countries : Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam. Conversely, many Sub-Saharan countries have experienced rapid urbanisation, which was accompanied by a decrease in per capita income. This was the case in Cameroon, Congo (Dem. Rep.), Togo and Zimbabwe. As Rwanda is making urbanisation one of its priority area for its development, there is a need to highlight findings from recent research undertaken on the subject in Rwanda, and for sharing experience from other countries.

It is against the timely and relevance of the subject for the Republic of Rwanda, that the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda) is organizing its 8th Annual conference around the topic : Urbanisation, Urban planning and Urban governance.

The Conference

The conference will develop over 1 day to report on the findings of research in Rwanda on urbanisation, urban planning and urban governance. Additionally, the event aims to bring keynote speakers from other countries which Rwandan policy makers like to learn from as well as others from neighbouring African countries. The event will be opened by the Hon. Minister of Infrastructure.

The overall aim of the conference is to provide policy makers with the latest evidence on policies and programmes which can assist in achieving positive urbanisation outcomes, both from Rwanda as well as countries to which Rwanda looks or could look for inspiration. The key issues to be discussed will revolve around fostering economic growth rates through urbanisation, designing policies, social protection in urban centres, human development, transformational social, economic and environmental change through appropriate urban planning, urban governance and institutions.

Speakers will include key decision-makers and/or senior researchers from Rwanda and beyond. Presentations of foreign experiences of urbanisation will increase information shared with decision makers and enable evidence base policy making.
In preparation of a series of thematic workshops on Urbanisation, IPAR will organise a reference group meeting, reconvening a small group of Rwandan stakeholders which will accompany the thematic workshops in Rwanda. This group will make suggestions about the workshops topics, suggestions on who should be invited, and to what extent and how it should be open to the public and streamed online.

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