Skyrocketing land market values, especially in major urban centers, have accompanied the phenomenal economic growth witnessed in Rwanda over the past decade. This has prompted the Government of Rwanda (GOR) to institute various urban land policies. In the period leading to and immediately after the year 2000, Rwanda’s urban areas were characterized by rapid, uncoordinated and uncontrolled urbanization. For example, in 2006 the city of Kigali had a population growth rate of 6 % per annum (Republic of Rwanda, 2000) and 9 % per annum in 2008 (MINIFRA, 2008) – a trend indicating a continued increase in urban population. According to Rwanda’s Vision 2020, accelerating urbanization in Rwanda occurred in a rapid and uncoordinated manner while social services and employment opportunities lagged behind (Republic of Rwanda, 2000).
Vision 2020 (Republic of Rwanda, 2000), the guiding document that charts the country’s development agenda, stipulated that by the year 2010, each city in Rwanda would have a master plan and specific land use management plans to guide the development of basic infrastructure, enable decongestion of agricultural zones – with economic activities planned in a sustainable manner.
Today, those master plans in Rwanda are implemented through the use of zoning regulations specifying the segregation of different land uses (Republic of Rwanda, 2000; Master Plan Kigali City 2003a, 2003b, 2003c). The master plans are in their early stages of implementation and the impacts on the urban population have already been seen in some areas especially in Kigali.
However, previous studies indicate that the informal market in Rwanda is fairly strong and further that the price of land is influenced by among other factors property, location, family relationships, and social obligations (Twarabamenye and Nyandwi, 2012). Although the actual factors that influence urban land prices have only been scantily investigated in the past, no comprehensive study has been conducted countrywide to explore the determinants that affect urban land market prices in Rwanda. Furthermore, there has only been fuzzy information about the trends in urban land values over the past decade. Likewise, no studies have been done to understand the impacts of urban land values and policies on people’s livelihoods in the country.
The main objective of this research is to investigate land market values, urban land policies and their impacts on urban centers in Rwanda. Three (3) specific objectives can be distinguished namely:
- Evaluating the determinants of urban land markets;
- Analysis of trends in urban land markets and values; and
- Assessing impacts of urban land prices and policies.