For over 50 years, since Rwanda's independence moving from one part of Kigali to the next needed navigational skills rivaling those of Henry Morton Standley. Especially if you were a foreigner or someone living upcountry.
You would need to ask for directions every 100 meters in order to find your destination. But this is now becoming a thing of the past.
With the Kigali City Council (KCC) project to name all the roads, motorists, tourists and commuters will no longer have to deal with the issues they had to for the last half century.
The I.T. manager at KCC, Cedric Umuhire, promises that the process of naming over the 2,600 roads, avenues and boulevards found in the city will be completed within the next couple of weeks. "If a street is, for instance, located in Nyarugenge District, the street name is designated as 'KN 2 S' (Kigali Nyarugenge, Street 2). If it is a main road like the Airport Road, the road sign would be specified as Rd K.G 1 or 4," Umuhire says.
Bruno Rangira, KCC's Director of Media and Communication, says "the main aim of the road naming initiative is to ensure that Kigali is as user friendly as possible. Our country is very attractive and we receive a lot of visitors and we must make them feel at home during their stay in the city,"
He also added that the exercise, which will cost $1.1 million, will boost security in Kigali and make it easier for Police and other security organs to locate a place when a problem needs to be addressed.
The street signs are not the only exercise on the agenda. Cedric Umuhire revealed that the City authorities intend to partner with American technology giant, Google Inc, through Google Maps, to further ease the identification of locations within the city. Google Maps is a web mapping service application and technology. It offers street maps, a route planner for travellers and an urban business locator in numerous countries around the world.
"Getting a map of Kigali is a very big problem and getting one that is up to date is almost impossible. This new road naming and mapping exercise has brought a lot of relief to us the citizens and everyone in Kigali", Peter Kambanda, a student at KIST, says.
Recently, the Rwanda Development Board, in partnership with Google, launched a mapping exercise that will highlight the country's main tourism attractions on the Web.
According to Rangira, the process will cover 20 out of 35 sectors beginning with those in urban areas. The rural sectors will be covered at a later date.
Bosco Bigira, a moto-taxi rider, is pleased with this exercise. He hopes that it will make it easier for him to work with both locals and foreigners.
"There are tricky areas in Kigali like the Nyarutarama and Kagugu suburbs. All the streets look the same and this usually make our work hard because we end up wasting a lot of fuel while looking for a place which could have been easily found if there were signposts," he added.
Alex Kambanda, an employee of Never Again Rwanda, an NGO located in a residential area in Remera, talked about the struggles he had directing people, especially foreigners, to their offices. "With this project in place, all one needs is a well detailed address. And it will boost development in residential areas as well," he said.
Lillian Ngabire, a catering waitress at Le Sanitas Hotel, says "we deal in home deliveries but only to places that are nearby and it's not consistent. But with the roads well named, it will be easy for us to expand our home-delivery business".
The exercise is already having an impact in tourism. Kevin Kiiza, a visitor from Uganda, says it is easier to visit a country which is easy to navigate.
"In developed countries people just take a walk to see different places and they can't get lost. I think it will be the same here now. Kiiza said.
Bruno Rangira said, "the road naming exercise has been successful so far."