Kigali Innovation City project to kick off in September


L-R: Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé, Rwanda’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Uziel Ndagijimana, and Kanaru Wacieni, a senior director at Africa50, during the signing of the implementation agreement for the construction of the Kigali Innovation Centre in Nairobi, Kenyaon May 31, 2024. PHOTO | POOL


The construction of the Kigali Innovation City (KIC) is set to begin September 2024, after the government concluded negotiations with key project sponsors and signed the implementation agreement on Friday.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Uziel Ndagijimana signed the deal with Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé on the sidelines of the African Development Bank annual meetings in Nairobi, paving the way for the construction of the $300 million project.

The project will be financed by the continental infrastructural financier Africa50, in which Rwanda is a shareholder, in partnership with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (Badea), among other partners.

“With this signing, we can now move to the next phase of the project, which is to complete the financing and to start construction, and this is expected to be done within the next three months,” said Mr Ebobissé at the signing ceremony.

When completed, the KIC is expected to improve Rwanda’s technological innovation capacity and boost its information, communication and technology related exports by $150 million every year, as well as help attract over $300 million in foreign direct investments to Rwanda annually.

Dr Ndagijimana said the innovation city will “contribute greatly to our strategy to promote digital technologies to contribute to our ambition to build a knowledge-based economy.”

The signing comes after a long round of negotiations between Africa50, Badea, the Rwandan government and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), which is the implementing authority.

The negotiations have long held off the commencement of the project, which has been in the pipeline for years, being part of the Rwanda Vision 2020 programme launched in 2000 as a development growth aspiration for the country.

“Both parties wanted to make sure that the project is bankable and that it will be able to attract other financial contributions. That’s why it took time, to ensure that the project is attractive and can attract other players,” said Dr Ndagijimana.

Already, the project has attracted an additional financier in Badea, which, according to Mr Ebobissé, will fund the construction of the shared infrastructure in the facility as well as the first and subsequent buildings. The total amount it will provide to the project is still being discussed.

KIC is one of the 24 projects across 28 African countries that Africa50 has so far agreed to finance since its establishment in 2017, and is among the costliest the financier has so far invested in.

According to Africa50, it is projected to create more than 50,000 jobs when completed and will be producing over 2,600 students annually over 30 years, “adding to Rwanda’s and Africa’s pool of tech-savvy entrepreneurs.”