Kigali requires $770m to become smart city

Friday November 18 2016

A truck collecting garbage in Kigali. Gas released from domestic waste can be turned into energy, which can then be fed into the national grid. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

Rwanda can use cost-effective and profitable approaches to save billions spent on energy, and recoup any investments put into making the capital city sustainable said a study on low carbon cities.

According to the report by the International Growth Centre (an international institution that seeks to promote sustainable growth), it would require Rwf630.6 billion ($770 million), generating annual savings of Rwf118.6 billion, and paying back the investment in 5.3 years to turn Kigali into a smart city.

Experts from various fields including climate advocates, entrepreneurs, economists, NGOs and environment experts gathered in Kigali to discuss ways of building green solutions for sustainable cities with a focus on Kigali and other African cities.

A study on the economics of low carbon cities unveiled during the meeting, reveals that Kigali could reduce its carbon emission by 2032 by 39 per cent through cost-effective investments.

Energy efficiency projects and renewable energy use are cited as most cost-effective areas that would reduce carbon emission, save money and bring returns on investments.

“The waste sector has particularly substantial mitigation potential, because waste is much larger of emissions than in higher income contexts as urban residents consume much less energy than their counter parts in middle and high income cities,” said the study.


The report states, the low carbon measures in the waste sector can generate electricity, which displaces high carbon electricity from the grid and avoids emissions from burning fuels for this purpose.

“You can capture the waste gas released in land fields and turn it into energy,” said Sally Murray, country economist and programme manager at International Growth Centre.

“That is very profitable and displaces much more intensive carbon energy sources from the grid,” adding it can to produce more energy for the country. The challenge the city and businesses have is getting the finance to make those profitable investments, said Ms Murray.

The study found out that Kigali’s total energy bill was Rwf206 billion in 2015, which is equals to 10.1 per cent of the city’s GDP.

According to the Kigali city master plan, the capital will have 5 million residents by 2040, up from the current 1.2 million today.

According  to Robert Ddamulira, the Africa energy co-ordinator at the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF), 70 per cent of carbon emissions come from cities.

The three municipalities of Nyarugenge, Nyagatare and Musanze participated in ‘The Earth Hour City Global Challenge’ 2016 – a WWF competition on cities’ policies for sustainability to reduce carbon emission by promoting renewable energy. The municipalities that represented Rwanda in the global competition were ranked 36, 37, and 38 respectively out of 126 cities. Mr Ddamulira says they can do better.

“Imagine the energy that they will need to light their homes, and do other things,” said Mr Ddamulira. “Our challenges to the cities is that this electricity can come from renewable sustainable sources.”

Currently, the cost of solar energy is the major barrier to for many Rwandans, a problem dealers’ blame on import duties. Yet it is one of the most cost effective measures suggested by experts.