Rwanda Announces Fresh Construction Sector Reforms

Rwanda Development Board(RDB), the City of Kigali and the Rwanda Housing Authority have announced new reforms, expected to ease the process of securing construction permits and spur investments.

The reforms, which were announced on Monday, are expected to reduce the cost and time it takes to process construction permits.

The latest World Bank's Doing Business report ranked Rwanda as the second easiest place to do business in Africa and the 29th globally. However, on dealing with construction permits, the report ranks Rwanda 106th globally.

Marie- Chantal Rwakazina, the City of Kigali Mayor, said: "For building projects that are not large-scale or complex, you will no longer need to submit a geotechnical study, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report or topographic survey."

A view of the proposed Kigali Arena, a multi-sport facility with a capacity of 10,000, that is under construction in Remera, Gasabo District. Emmanuel Kwizera.

As a result, the number of procedures involved in getting a construction permit will reduce from 15 to nine while the number of days to obtain construction permits will reduce from 113 to 57.

Government projects that this will ultimately reduce the cost of construction from 12 per cent to 2.2 per cent of the construction value.

The reforms include an amendment by the Ministry of Infrastructure that will see elimination of the requirement of geotechnical studies for buildings that do not exceed 1,500 square metres.

This, officials said, means developers will now no longer pay Rwf2 million and wait 14 days to obtain the document.

The workshop brought together different stakeholders from the construction sector including architects and engineers. Courtesy

The second reform is a specification by the Ministry of Environment as to which building projects are obliged to carry out full or partial Environmental Impact Assessments and which ones aren't.

An Environmental Impact Assessment before getting a building permit has been a general requirement for all categories of buildings irrespective of the differences in the level of risk caused to the environment.

The 14 days to obtain the document will be saved because the EIA will be sourced directly from the One-Stop Centre and not through both RDB and One-Stop Centre as was previously the case.

The third reform is elimination of the requirement for developers to notify the One-Stop Centre as to when they intend to commence construction.

"With the removal of the notification form, that was previously filled, a developer can commence construction whenever they get a building permit," officials said.

The other reform is the elimination of the requirement to have City of Kigali planners and the Rwanda National Police jointly involved with engineers to carry out final inspection of buildings.

Under the reform, private engineers are able to pass a building's safety standards and issue its certificate of completion and, therefore, will eliminate the process of government carrying out final inspections as well as reduce time involved in the process.

Emmanuel Hategeka, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of RDB, noted that the construction industry is critical to Rwanda's economic development and that the reforms are aligned to the overall strategy of having a private sector-led economy.

"We are constantly working to make the acquisition of construction permits easier for developers. We have introduced regulatory changes that will ensure that construction is seamless," he said.

With the new reforms, he said, government hopes to attract more investments in the construction sector.

"And we will continue engaging closely with the private sector as we continuously improve the environment within which they do business," he added.

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