Rwanda: How Can Rwanda Optimise Land Use to Cater for Its Growing Population?

As Rwanda’s population growth continues to exponentially grow, there is a question whether the available land will support agriculture to meet the growing food needs, and at the same time cater for the housing needs.

The country’s population is projected to increase nearly twofold by 2050; from the current 12 million to 22 million people, according to estimates from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).

The population in the City of Kigali is expected to more than double from the current 1.6 million to 3.8 million by 2050.

Overall, the National Land Use and Development Master Plan (NLUDMP) indicates that Rwanda’s population density will increase from 415 inhabitants per square meter (m2) in 2012 to 1,000 inhabitants per m2 by 2050.

Felix Nshimyumuremyi, the Director General of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) said that 5.5 million housing units will be needed to accommodate 22 million people by 2050, which means that there is a need to build 150,000 housing units annually until 2050.

Nshimyumuremyi was speaking recently during a virtual meeting organised by the Network of Rwandan Parliamentarians on Population and Development (RPRPD).

The meeting was held with the City of Kigali, and the secondary cities with the aim to consider how housing and various infrastructure projects can take into consideration the effects of population growth and sustainable environmental protection.

There are six secondary cities; Muhanga, Huye, Rusizi, Musanze, Nyagatare and Rubavu.

Nshimyumuremyi said that housing models enabling the accommodation of many families in a single house are being planned to optimize land. They include four-in-one and eight-in-one houses – meaning houses which will be accommodating four families or eight families each.

Others are residential houses consisting of apartments of up to 22 floors that will also be providing accommodation for many households.

Single unit housing projects are now being restricted on land usage, where the standard plot is 300 square metres to optimise land usage.

Affordable housing

Meanwhile, MP Frank Habineza said that more should be well explained adding that in most cases, what they call affordable is out of reach for many people, including those with a stable income.

“Sometimes we talk about affordable housing but you realise that some of these houses are Rwf30 million and above, which is out of reach for some who want them,” he said.

For affordable housing, Nshimyumuremyi said that they consider people with a monthly income ranging from Rwf200,000 and Rwf700,000, adding that the Government will facilitate them to get loans that they can pay over a long-term at a relatively low interest rate.

He pointed out that the interest rate will be estimated at 11 percent – though the Government wanted to have it lowered further for affordability purposes as it has not yet reached the desired level.

So far, he said, affordable housing unit prices range from Rwf11 million to Rwf35 million, depending on the earnings, thanks to the World Banks’ $150 million financing for Rwanda to help implement the affordable housing project in the City of Kigali.

Imidugudu reduced to 3,000

Nshimyumuremyi said that currently, there is a regrouped settlement site ‘Umudugudu’ in each village of the country, which he said was not helping in the efficient use of land.

It is to note that there are 14,837 villages in Rwanda.

Nshimyumuremyi said that in the new land use masterplan, the number of Imidugudu settlement sites has been reduced to 3,000 to ensure optimum use of land.

Habineza wondered what would happen to people who were already living in the existing settlement sites.

However, Nshimyumuremyi assured him that those who are already settled in such sites will not be forced to leave them to relocate to the new sites, adding that the new plan will be implemented gradually starting with people who want to build new homes.

As time goes by, the houses in the current Imidugudu settlement sites will be old in 2030 and their owners will need to get new ones. That time, he said, they will be relocated to the new sites.