Have you ever heard of Kigali?
And have you even heard about Rwanda?
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda [the landlocked East African country] is one of the most attractive capital cities in Africa, and easily the cleanest
A month back during my E Africa visit, when I flew into Kigali from Nairobi, little did I realize the pleasant surprise that awaited me! The city sits on a series of verdant ridges and lush valleys and hillsides, flowering trees, winding boulevards and bustling streets. It is arguably one of the most attractive capital cities in Africa, as well as easily one of the cleanest and safest.
The carefully painted dividers and sidewalks, the absence of any littering and garbage, lush green plantation and the beautiful array of red rooftops in a sequence over the hills make you feel as if one is in Europe. The cool clime of Kigali (as against most other cities around the Equator) strengthens this feeling. Kigali is cool throughout the year due to its elevation, which tempers the heat.
The city-planning seems immaculate, thanks to an ambitious national development plan, Kigali has become an ultra modern metropolis that boasts social, economic and environmental success. It is a city under construction, in which new buildings are fast replacing outdated ones. Tarred, dual-carriage roads crisscross Kigali, providing a seamless connection between urban settlements and the fog-covered countryside uplands.
Kigali not only attests a unique geography but also the trajectory of a model sustainable city with impressive environmental measures. As Rwanda’s main business district and port of entry, Kigali is seen as an investment and economic hub in Africa. This city of more than a million people is one of Africa’s information technology hubs, making it an economic growth engine.
The city is now a preferred destination for many organizers of international conferences. However, what struck me is that why is Kigali not on the tourist map? – the unforgettable gorilla trek, the Genocide Memorial Center, the fruit market, lunch at the Hotel Mille Collines and a ride on a motorbike taxi through town are all breathtaking experiences.
Rebuilding assiduously after the infamous genocide, Kigali now boasts a slew of new skyscrapers, several international hotels and a host of excellent eating options. Few people leave Kigali without being impressed by this plucky and charismatic survivor. There is a need to make African cities liveable, functional and smart to serve as tools for economic growth. Kigali is a case in point.