On 28th March 2019 a consultation for stakeholders in the Urbanization and Built Environment sector was held to discuss the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization, at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali.
The Ministry of Environment with the Ministry of Infrastructure hosted the consultation alongside the Global Green Growth Institute as a facilitator, the invitation was extended for stakeholders to contribute towards the Center’s institutional framework. It was an opportunity for all stakeholders working on Rwanda’s urbanization to discuss their active collaboration in establishing the Center of Excellence. The stakeholders consultation meeting had representatives from Rwanda Housing Authority, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, Ministry of Local Government, Rwanda Green Fund, Rwanda Transport Development Agency, University of Rwanda, UN-Habitat, Private Sector Federation, KFW, and other stakeholders.
Director General for Climate Change , Juliet Kabera of the Ministry of Environment welcomed all participants giving insight into the advantages in establishing a Center of excellence based on the existing efforts that all groups and institutions are working on in promoting green urbanization in Rwanda. She applauded participants in their existing comprehensive projects and programmes and encouraged stakeholders to give inputs into finalizing a clear roadmap with roles and responsibilities for establishing the Center. A center of excellence is considered as a team, a shared facility or an entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training for a focused area. Participants actively engaged and elaborated on the basics of a Center of Excellence , the benefits of establishing a Center and a detailed plan on how to set up a Center of Excellence that will assure strong operational procedures and principles for credibility of the Center by cementing partnership with local and international institutions. In order for a Center of excellence to be successful and reach its goals it must establish set of pragmatic principles guiding the management team. Center of Excellence provide a focal point for knowledge management, with the overall goal being the ability to capture new knowledge and practices from inside and outside of the specific sector.
Rwanda’s second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2) of 2013-2018, has prioritized areas of transformation of economic geography of Rwanda by facilitating and managing urbanization in a green and inclusive manner. Under Green Growth – Rwanda envisions to become a zero-carbon economy by 2050. This vision includes increasing the level of green investment and environmentally sustainable urban development that exploits green economic opportunities , green innovation in the industrial and private sector. Under the thematic outcome of the EDPRS2, one of the interventions is the establishment of a Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization to promote and develop green urban areas and technologies. The Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization would serve to enhance research, capacity and knowledge generation and dissemination of green urbanization and its components with and for the Government at all levels and other relevant stakeholders. A Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization once established would work with all the institutions and stakeholders to serve as a platform for knowledge and information repository to ensure the harmonization of green urbanization policies and strategies. The idea of the Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization will fulfill the aim of closing gaps related to knowledge sharing and awareness of decisions taken by practitioners and decision makers by providing support and effective delivery of all urbanization services.
The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Global Green Growth Institute, carried out as assessment of the rationale, management modalities and potential programme for the Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization. During the stakeholder consultation GGGI presented the findings to gather more views from the stakeholders and discuss the plan moving towards the implementation of this Center of Excellence.
In 2011, the government of Rwanda adopted the National strategy on Climate Change and Low Carbon Development (NSCCLLCD), also known as green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy (GGCRS), with fourteen programs of action that are all key to urbanization such as sustainable land use management , resilient transport systems, low carbon urban systems, low carbon energy grid, ecotourism, green industry among others. Urbanization as a cross cutting sector has numerous stakeholders contributing towards Rwanda’s cities green, resilient and sustainable. The government of Rwanda has assigned the Ministry of Infrastructure, specifically the Urbanization division to oversee work being done in the City of Kigali, Secondary Cities and other districts. The Ministry of Infrastructure is working and supporting Rwanda Housing Authority in Urbanization projects to make sure the built environment sector adheres to green urban development initiatives and standards. Many other government institutions are also contributing to the urbanization process in mobility , energy, water and sanitation, waste management , jobs etc. A Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization once established would work with all the institutions and stakeholders to serve as a platform for knowledge and information repository to ensure the harmonization of green urbanization policies and strategies. The idea of the Center of Excellence for Green Urbanization will fulfill the aim of closing gaps related to knowledge sharing and awareness of decisions taken by practitioners and decision makers by providing support and effective delivery of all urbanization services. For Urbanization to play a role in socio-economic transformation and development, all partners and stakeholders will participate in drafting the necessary urban administrative and development management framework for the Center of Excellence. With the high population growth rate and rapid urban development causing pressure on land, water, food and energy resources coupled with impact of climate change are all factors that make Rwanda’s future socio-economic development uncertain. Therefore, the Center of Excellence would provide the knowledge and technical assistance to urban development practitioners at all levels to promote new urban development concepts of green urbanization and secondary cities development.
The Key players of Urbanization in Rwanda are the Ministry of Infrastructure for their role in policy and strategic planning ; Rwanda Housing Authority given their expertise in implementation, enforcement, monitoring, auditing; and the Infrastructure and utilities providers such as RTDA, Ministry of Environment, UN-Habitat (for transport , water and sanitation, energy, waste management) ; development partners and NGO’s. The collaboration amongst these stakeholders will fast track the key conditions for the success of the center in terms of effective governance and management ; appropriate staffing and research ; institutional commitment and effective funding for the center.
The City of Kigali, secondary cities and other towns of Rwanda have poor data and information available on the economy, land , finance, infrastructure and governance. The situation , coupled with limited human resources capacity and tools to control urban development, is severely affecting cities capacity to plan and manage urban development and promote employment and economic growth , exploitation of cities uniqueness and lack of creativity.
During his presentation Mr Okechukwu Daniel Ogbonnaya, Programme Lead Coordination for GGGI Rwanda clarified that the main goal of the Center would be to promote research for generation and dissemination of knowledge for green urbanization. He continued illustrating the Center’s mission would be to increase the knowledge of green urban development for sustainable socio-economic development, environmental management and climate resilience. The Center’s objectives would be to inform and advise the government, development partners, and stakeholders for green urbanization; Promote knowledge and human capital development in areas of green urbanization; enable multi-stakeholders and interdisciplinary research for green urbanization and enhance information and knowledge sharing mechanism in green urbanization. Mr Ogbonnaya described that the Center would be established to accelerate green urbanization for economic and social transformation (35% urban population that is linked to per capita GDP growth, universal access to basic services) ; a need for well managed urban development that is responsive to global agenda commitments (SDGs, New Urban Agenda, Paris Agreement amongst others) through knowledge generation and dissemination to inform decision makers and practitioners ; knowledge and technical assistance to understand new urban development concepts of green urbanization and secondary cities development including policy making, legislation’s, regulations, planning, design, and implementation.
He further alluded on the Center’s key activities and services that the Center will provide and manage including research; education and training ; Information hub ; Networking and services rendered including informed and reliable advice to government , business and civil society.
The participants explored the different options available for the Centers operationalization and location of either being embedded within the University of Rwanda’s or a Training Center where existing human resources facilities can be used such as researchers, training facilities and equipment. Other options discussed where for the Center to be a standalone independent Center, which will require intensive capital and human resources investment in facilities, recruitment , operational structures and processes. It was agreed that the Center will be linked to the custodian ministry for governance. During the feedback session participants gave a recap of the existing Centers of Excellence in Rwanda such as Kigali Smart Center of Excellence housed by the City of Kigali ; ICT Smart City Labs housed by Ministry of ICT; the online Center of excellence housed by Fonerwa and UNDP
Urbanisation Division Manager, Mr Edward Kyazze of Ministry of Infrastructure agreed that moving forward stakeholders will be required to establish a steering committee ; draft a matrix of existing Centers of excellence and their core functions ; create a database of upcoming Centers for possible merging or partnerships ; and departments the Center can work with to promote best practice and research. Stakeholders will outline the role of the center within the greater community and its approach to other Centers of Excellence for the greater good of knowledge sharing. It is anticipated that the Center will work closely with Rwanda’s professional bodies, development partners , local government associations and stakeholders.