Kigali: A Policy Narrative

This paper examines the urban development of Kigali from its precolonial past to the present day


Kigali is urbanizing fast. Between 1990 and 2010, its population increased more than five-fold, growing from 219,000 to 1.2 million inhabitants. As its population has increased, so has its spatial footprint. Satellite imagery reveals that much of the city’s recent growth has taken place near the city’s central business district (CBD) and airport area to the east.

In this policy narrative, the authors examine the urban development of Kigali from its precolonial past to the present day. Their analysis covers both the spatial development of the city as well as its economic development. Special emphasis is given to the historical development of the city’s structure of governance as well as it land and housing markets. To carry out this analysis, they use a wide range of sources including satellite data, census data, and geo-referenced firm data.

This paper is a part of a Global Research Program on Spatial Development of Cities, funded by the Multi Donor Trust Fund on Sustainable Urbanization of the World Bank and supported by the UK Department for International Development.


Patricia Jones, Lino Ferreira, Sally Murray (2016) Kigali: A Policy Narrative. World Bank, Washington, DC

Kigali: A Policy Narrative

Published 1 March 2016