Africa50, the pan-African investment platform, and the Government of Rwanda, through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, on Friday unveiled the urban masterplan for the development of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) project.
The ceremony to unveil the masterplan, whose first phase of implementation is estimated to cost $300m upwards, took place at the state-of-the-art Africa Leadership University (ALU), which is located in the Technopolis which is located within the Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ).
The masterplan serves as the blueprint for the 61 hectares KIC site which entails the development and construction of a mixed-use world-class and smart innovation hub, which is aimed at developing cutting-edge solutions to help stimulate economic growth in Rwanda, the region and on a continental basis.
KIC already houses two world-class universities – Carnegie Mellon University Africa and Africa Leadership University. A third university, the University of Rwanda Centre of Biomedical Engineering and e-health, is under construction.
The rest of the development will include additional universities, Grade A office spaces, research and development facilities, and start-up business incubators, alongside supporting facilities for retail, hospitality, and accommodation.
In designing KIC, special attention was paid to leveraging the physical infrastructure to foster the connected and collaborative ecosystem KIC and the Government of Rwanda envisions.
The masterplan integrates smart solutions for facility management and incorporates green principles into the transportation modes and building design, construction and management. It also allows for adequate green and open spaces to foster collaboration and exchange of ideas within the ecosystem.
KIC is a flagship initiative of the Government of Rwanda which aims to create over 50,000 jobs during the life of the project, generate $150 million in ICT exports and attract over $300 million in foreign direct investment.
According to RDB, the urban masterplan will be implemented in phases in line with the project’s objectives and demand forecast.
The implementation of the masterplan will start with the construction of the horizontal infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, street lighting, walkways, etc., as well as a mixed-use first building and visitor centre in 2022. This will help catalyse further investments into the project.
Commenting on the occasion of the ceremony, Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation of Rwanda, who was represented by Yves Iradukunda, Permanent Secretary of ICT and Innovation, said the KIC is in line with the government vision and ambition to make Rwanda a knowledge-based economy.
“Rwanda’s social and economic transformation agenda requires bold investments in innovation and technology. KIC provides both the physical infrastructure and ecosystem as we position Rwanda to become a pan African innovation hub and to grow our knowledge economy.”
The event was also marked by the signing of the shareholders agreement between Africa50 and RDB, which sets out the principles of the partnership to design, finance, construct and operate the KIC project.
Clare Akamanzi, CEO of RDB, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Government, pointed out that the KIC will spur socio-economic development of the country and position Rwanda as an education, technology and innovation hub.
“We are pleased with the close partnership between Africa50 and Government of Rwanda which has allowed us to accelerate the development of the project and finalize the pre-development activities required to attract additional private sector players to co-develop and co-finance this strategic project with the Government and Africa50.”
Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé emphasized “We are very pleased with this significant new milestone which underscores Africa50’s ability to work closely with its country shareholders to develop investment-ready projects.”
“We are proud to be developing this important project alongside the Government of Rwanda. Africa50 will continue to deploy its project development and finance expertise to mobilize private sector funds and structure the financing for the project,” Ebobissé.
Ebobissé, who said that Africa 50 agreed to split funding by 50-50 of the initial phases of the KIC called on investors and global brands to pick interest in the multi-million project because return on investment is assured given its importance.
“KIC resonates with our strategy to fund infrastructure assets that help create meaningful jobs and value addition, stimulate economic opportunities for existing and future generations, with a focus on preserving natural resources, while also generating attractive returns for investors.” Ebobissé added.
Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s growth by developing and investing in bankable infrastructure projects, catalysing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.
Africa50 currently has 31 shareholders, comprising 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib.