Rwanda reaches for the skies

Rwandan authorities have ordered that cities build vertically to ease the urban housing challenge and ensure sustainable development in the future. But some would prefer a policy that focuses on affordable housing for low-income earners.

Rwandan authorities have adopted a new national urban housing policy that makes it mandatory for developers to build high-rise structures in cities. The policy comes in response to the high rate of urbanisation and land shortage. Traditional single-storey buildings will be outlawed to save land for other uses such as urban agriculture.

Edward Kyazze of the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) told the New Times newspaper that high-rise buildings have the advantage that they require less infrastructure to connect to public utilities and infrastructure compared to low-density areas with one-storey structures. Multi-storey housing facilities will also feature social amenities, including sports and health facilities, shopping centres, social halls and learning centres.

But critics fear the ordinary Rwandan cannot afford multi-storey residential housing, particularly in the city centre with its high rents. Kalisa Vestinah, a student at the University of Kigali, would like the housing authorities to instead encourage developers to build affordable homes for low-income earners.

In Kigali, a lack of affordable housing is contributing to the growth of slums and other unplanned settlements. According to a 2012 housing market survey, the city requires close to 350,000 more residential units by 2022 in all categories – affordable, mid-range and premium housing – to satisfy growth.


Image credit: By Lemurbaby – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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