The Ministry of Infrastructure (MININFRA) in collaboration with GGGI hosted Thematic Sector Working Group Meeting on Public Spaces. Sector Working Groups are set as a mechanism in Rwanda to prepare yearly forward looking Joint Sector Review that monitors activities within the sector.
As an introduction to the urbanization sector in Rwanda , the first Thematic Sector Working Group Meeting on Public Spaces was held in October 2018. Thereafter during the National Urban Forum held in February this year with a specific theme on “Implementing the New Urban Agenda” two side events were planned parallel to the National Urban Forum, to promote public spaces. The two events were the Urban Walk and Inclusive Cities Talk, that attracted a wide range of stakeholders in order to share results of recently concluded projects and programmes on public spaces and plans to move forward the public spaces agenda in Rwanda.
At the Thematic Sector Working Group on 18th July, in their opening remarks, both, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Patricie Uwase, and GGGI’s Country Representative Inhee Chung, highlighted the need of involving private sector in the building of public spaces, as surveys, assessments and mappings are done and informed design of public spaces ready for implementation. They encouraged all stakeholders to further advocate for safe, inclusive and accessible public spaces for rapidly urbanizing Rwanda.
Technical Advisor of UN-Habitat Catherine Kalisa presented on the importance public spaces have for urban development, highlighting Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda that are being localized and implemented in Rwanda to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. She highlighted transportation efficiency, public health, environmental sustainability, enhanced safety, promotion of equity and social inclusion as benefits of public spaces. Notably stating that public spaces can also generate income, attract investment and create wealth.
Jules Djangwani, Wetland Restoration and Landscape Specialist of Rwanda Environment Management Agency presented activities on rehabilitating wetlands in Kigali with an example of Nyandungu urban wetland being rehabilitated and built as an eco-toursm park, designed by Afrilandscapes. Theresa Cooke, Operations and Projects Manager of Afrilandscapes presented design project of the 130 hectares of wetland. In Kigali, MASS Design Group described their contribution to public spaces in Rwanda by illustrating their work done within affordable housing development project, as presented by Designer Aziz Farid Shyaka.
The City of Kigali One Stop Center Director Fred Mugisha presented public spaces planned by the draft revised master plan of the City of Kigali and benefits private stakeholders could have by investing in public spaces. Such benefits ranged from increased project density to transferable development rights. Revision of master plans for six secondary cities is ongoing and participatory planning process brought in citizens needs for well designed public spaces. Planner from Surbana International Consultants Enrico Morriello stated how public spaces for secondary cities are of vital as they shape peoples experience and understanding of city and culture and such spaces become a city’s identity.
Master plans were informed by a study on public spaces done by the School of Architecture and Built Environment of University of Rwanda presented by Dr. Manlio Michieletto. The School mapped open spaces in secondary cities that could become well designed and utilized public spaces, as part of the public spaces for secondary cities initiative by the Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda Housing Authority and GGGI. Green and smart city development specialist of Rwanda Housing Authority Parfait Karekezi presented designs for public spaces in Nyagatare, Huye and Rubavu, an outcome of a year long initiative.
As a follow up to the meeting, stakeholders led by MININFRA and RHA with GGGI, UN-Habitat, IGC and others, would prepare information package for private sector on benefits for the investments into public spaces.
To read statements on public spaces by participating stakeholders, please check Twitter conversations using hashtag #PublicSpacesRW