Speaking at the recent Africa Smart Cities Investment Summit (ASCIS2023) on “The Urban Integration for Universal Health Coverage in African Smart Cities,” organized by the IntraHealth, Kigali City Mayor, Pudence Rubingisa, outlined the efforts that have been made to transform Kigali into a livable and healthy city.
He showed that the goal is not only to ensure a high quality of life for residents but also to align with environmental standards and human rights.
One of the key strategies implemented by the city is fostering collaboration and unity among all partners. Rubingisa emphasizes the importance of working together and uniting citizens, allowing them to express their opinions and desires for their city. This inclusive approach ensures that the development of the city reflects the needs and aspirations of its residents.
Another important aspect of the city’s strategy is policy orientation. Leaders provide guidance to create a conducive environment through infrastructure development. This includes the rehabilitation or construction of roads and the provision of pedestrian walkways, which were previously lacking. The aim is to make roads accessible and safe for both vehicles and pedestrians.
Mayor Rubingisa announced that the city plans to plant 400,000 trees across three districts from July of this year to June of next year. This commitment is aimed at creating a conducive environment for the residents and improving air quality in the city.
In addition to tree planting, the city has also focused on creating green areas and recreational spaces. These spaces not only contribute to a healthier city but also provide opportunities for various activities.
Mayor Rubingisa mentioned the successful organization of a car-free day, which encourages mass sports activities. Although challenges were faced due to the large number of people relying on the roads, steps were taken to prevent any inconvenience.
“Currently, we have an average of 16,000 individuals engaging in mass sports every two weeks. I do not perceive this as a significant accomplishment since we require a much larger participation rate.” He said.
“You can also observe the number of non-communicable diseases that are being prevented. This is because we have implemented preventive medicine, where individuals come in and undergo the scanning system that has been established.” He added.
“The purpose of this system is not only to provide them with relevant information but also to encourage them to engage in physical exercise that is contributing massively to preventing non-communicable diseases cases in the city.” Mayor Rubingisa explained.
Also, Kigali’s transformation inxclude the promotion of green spaces and recreational areas. Mayor Rubingisa emphasized that these spaces are not only meant for the youth but also for elders, women, and various other groups. This inclusivity has resulted in a diverse range of people attending and participating in activities aimed at enjoying and preserving these green areas.
An exemplary project that showcases Kigali’s commitment to sustainability is the Nyandungu Eco-Park. Mayor Rubingisa acknowledged that transforming this area was no easy task as it involved relocating people from illegal and privately-owned wetlands engaged in illegal activities.
“And then, you know, transform the wetlands into a destination that offers various spaces, trees, and walkways for people to enjoy as a recreational area, our city aims to be more than just a place with high-rise buildings and fancy roads, as commonly seen in capital cities. But we wanted a city that has all those amenities to allow the citizens or visitors to enjoy but also practicing the exercise as well.” Mayor Rubingisa said.
He also talked about the construction of walkways to encourage non-motorized movements.
Involving individuals from finance or funding agencies in municipalities has been deemed crucial to support and finance projects related to immobility. By actively seeking input from citizens and collaborating with partners who can provide cost-effective solutions, the city aims to greatly promote free movement without relying on vehicles.
During a recent panel discussion, Mayor Rubingisa highlighted the concept of a green city project, which aligns with the city’s vision of creating a sustainable environment. The project aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote a healthier lifestyle by minimizing the use of vehicles among others.
“But again, we are working on improving the infrastructure where necessary. We have a clear strategy that outlines what needs to be done. This approach is much faster as we actively seek input from citizens and then collaborate with partners who can provide cost-effective solutions. At present, I cannot confidently state that we have achieved our desired goals. As you mentioned, we are open to receiving feedback and willing to listen.” He said.