Kigali is building its way to becoming ‘the Silicon Valley of Africa’ – but what is its main threat?
Kigali’s success rate is impressive, but its economy’s slow growth has left it vulnerable to threats to its prosperity.
In recent years, Kigali, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has risen from the bottom of the league table of development performance to one of the fastest growing economies in the world. But the town’s economy – and its very future – depend on a robust health and education system.
To this end, the country’s government is investing heavily in science and technology, something the young people and city’s leadership are already well aware of.
To make progress in Kigali, one need only consider that in the last decade it has become the Silicon Valley of Africa. This was largely due to its successful bid to host the 2014 Olympic Games. By the time the games ended, Kigali had become home to some of the world’s largest and fastest-growing tech companies – with a growing population of nearly one million people living in an area of less than a quarter of a square mile (0.8 per cent of the city).
And yet, Kigali suffers from a lack of infrastructure. There are no roads. Although some people have taken to walking (or cycling) to attend classes, many of these are for the most part very crowded and unsanitary. The city has recently begun issuing electronic pass-books for public transport, which is helpful for tourists but doesn’t solve the problem.
Even when a road opens up, the new traffic is met with hostility. In addition, the city is still a long way from the status of what other developed countries have enjoyed (see graphic). In countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, the growth curve for new urban areas has flatlined – if it has at all.
In Kigali, the government is investing heavily in science and technology, something the young people and city’s leadership are already well aware of.
So what is the future of Kigali? Its problems are numerous.