June 17, 2024

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Building Thriving Cities: The Success Story of Rwanda-Belgium Cooperation

Intending to boost the sectors of health care, agriculture, sustainable urban planning, and public finance management, the Government of Rwanda and the Kingdom of Belgium signed a 5-year cooperation programme (June 2019–June 2024) worth 120 million euros, with each sector giving particular attention to cross-cutting themes including gender, private sector development, and accountability.

Through that bilateral cooperation, the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), in partnership with the Belgian development agency Enabel, implemented the urbanization project named Urban Economic Development Initiative (UEDi) in the districts of Rwamagana, Musanze, and Rubavu.

The program took a holistic approach to support urban infrastructure for inclusive and sustainable economic development in its functionality to stimulate its further expansion, supporting three districts with planning and management projects and strengthening private sector development related to Made in Rwanda (MiR) construction materials.

Claudine NYINAWAGAGA, the Director General of the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), highlighted that the UEDi project was implemented based on the pillar of urban development, and the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1).

She said, “In the collaboration between the government of Rwanda and the Kingdom of Belgium that has been going on for 5 years, we as LODA in charge of development activities in local institutions have worked mainly on urbanization. This pillar is in line with Vision 2050 of the Rwandan government and in the last 7-year National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), where the government of Rwanda shows that it wants more Rwandans to live in cities.”

She emphasized that the project focused on developing infrastructure and other services that help people living in cities.

Mattias Piani, Intervention Manager, Urban Economic Development Initiative (UEDi) project, appreciated the cooperation between the Government of Rwanda and the Kingdom of Belgium, stressing that this project has been successful for the past five years.

He said, “I think the most important is to have a good partnership with the government of Rwanda, work hand in hand with them, and with the district at the central level, and I think this is the key element to succeed in this kind of project and also with the challenges that we had in COVID-19.”

“We’re working together, and Rwanda has the hand on the activities as the government, and then we’re here to support, and with Loda, we’ve been working very well, and this is one of the elements of the success of this project, he added.

He continued that the construction is an opportunity to develop capacity building, which is the most effective, and to provide coaching on the work directly and that the project aligns with Rwanda’s urbanization policy to construct secondary and satellite cities which are attractive in terms of both economy and quality of life

“Giving the budget to the district to build is for us the opportunity of coaching. In our team, we have engineers, human resource planners, and private-sector development experts. We have different experts that are at the service of the district, and that means when they have the procurement going on, we support the procurement team to do the best,” Mattias said.

LODA received a grant of 18.7 million euros to implement this project, where many achievements were made, contributing to social and economic transformation by boosting critical sectors in three districts, such as urban infrastructure, private sector development through Made in Rwanda (MiR), job creation, etc.

Musanze Youth Centre, one of the constructions under the UEDi project

In total, 11.581 km of asphalt roads, with drainages, non-motorized transport (NMT) lanes, tree plantations, street lights, and pedestrian sidewalks, were developed, completed, and operational in Rwamagana (6.46 km) and Rubavu (5.121 km).

In addition, they also constructed the Musanze Youth Center and talent showroom, the development of Rwamagana and Bugesera Master Plans, the construction and operationalization of the Integrated Craft Production Center in Musanze, the seasonal drier of timber and wood in Rwamagana’s ICPC, the Musanze Agri-product Market is in the finishing stage of the construction process (about 86%), and many more.

Furthermore, a total of 1.7 billion Rwf is committed to executing the quick-win projects selected in Bugesera and Rwamagana Districts (2024-2029/UEDI) to ensure the total grant budget is used effectively. This will help the implementing partners construct and supervise 2 asphalt roads (2.08 km/Bugesera and 1.9 km/Rwamagana) in an urban area in these 2 districts, respectively.

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