Kigali has emerged as the leading smart city in Africa among the 30 cities featured in the 2023 African Smart City Index. This groundbreaking initiative assesses the integration of digital infrastructure, sustainability measures, and innovative urban solutions in Africa’s rapidly evolving urban centres. The index was unveiled on September 6 during the Africa Smart City Investment Summit held in Kigali, focusing on key categories relevant to creating a sustainable and inclusive future for growing African cities.
Following Kigali, Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, secured the second position, while Nairobi, Kenya, came in third as a smart city. Cape Town in South Africa and Accra in Ghana secured the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
The index reveals the steps Kigali took to become a model of environmentally-friendly urban living. The new city’s master plan envisions Kigali becoming a green city with green public spaces. A British architectural design firm has been selected to develop the master plan for the Kigali Green City project, estimated to cost $5 billion. This project aims to provide green and affordable housing in the Kinyinya neighbourhood of Kigali and serve as a model for sustainable urban development, connecting affordable housing with climate change adaptation and mitigation measures. Inclusivity is among the guiding principles of the project, ensuring that every citizen benefits from its achievements.
The Green City Kigali Project prioritizes sustainable urban planning, green infrastructure, and eco-friendly technologies to enhance liveability through efficient public transportation, renewable energy integration, and green building practices aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
The Smart City Index comprises five categories related to pressing issues in developing smart cities in an African context. Kigali not only won the top position in the e-Governance category, secured the second spot in the living and well-being promotion category, and achieved a third-place ranking in the environment protection and integration category. Meanwhile, Nairobi took the lead in the economy and innovation category, Cape Town emerged as the frontrunner in the Mobility and Access Category, and Tunis claimed the top spot in the Living and Wellbeing category.
Kigali follows Rwanda’s example as becoming more connected with 21st century. The Irembo service, with 103 online services and plans for 400 more by June 2024, exemplifies the country’s commitment to improving government service delivery. Public institutions streamlined their processes, cutting down on lengthy and bureaucratic workflows, and transitioned to providing services through Irembo. Paper-based methods are now reserved for situations where there is no electronic service alternative available.