Developing Rubavu District: Findings from a Multidimensional Analysis
Secondary cities matter a lot in the provision of a more balanced sustainable urban growth for Rwanda. Stimulating urbanisation through the secondary city agenda is expected to create jobs and reduce poverty. These cities have a potential to act as poles of growth and relieve the pressure on Kigali, which currently dominates the Rwandan economy. With an eye on the Government’s target to achieve an urbanisation rate of 35% by 2024, IPAR-Rwanda has conducted an in-depth analysis of the opportunities which are offered by secondary cities and the challenges which they face. The current policy brief intends to provide information and guide deliberations on the development and strengthening of Rubavu district in the Western Province. Rubavu is an international gateway city located near the border city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and it is considered as a hub for tourism and industry. In terms of actual past growth rates, Rubavu district has had the highest GDP growth rate among secondary cities, averaging about 11% in the last 7 years. The challenge facing Rubavu is that it becomes more difficult to achieve marginal growth given such high growth rates. Therefore, the administration and other private stakeholders need to think innovatively in order to come up with new sources of growth. Given that the district is urbanized at a rate of 42% but still depends on agriculture, economic policy and infrastructure planning needs to be tailored to its increasing market opportunity through rural-urban and cross-border linkages. This can be done by promoting urban density, building on its strategic position as a tourist and business hub because it accommodates tourist areas such as Lake Kivu and hot springs. Besides, Rubavu is a city with a vibrant trade boarder known as “La Petite barrière”. Other key development sectors in Rubavu include wholesale and retail trade, construction, and transport and storage.